RedXJapanCh05 Charlotte Reborn. Alex's Leaping Monkey!

Ch05 Charlotte Reborn. Alex's Leaping Monkey!

Readers beware. Red X Japan contains violence, sexual content and other crap that some readers may find offensive. Discretion is advised.
Red X, Johnny Rancid and other characters are property of their respective creators and DC comics and have only been modified by Human X to fit the story. This is a work of fiction and any resemblance these characters or situations have to anyone in your own life are purely coincidental…maybe.

Note: (HumanX made a mistake in earlier chapters and miss-spelt Bangong Fang She which will now be written as Bangong Mang She, the right one. Sorry about that.)

Charlotte stares longingly, her cheeks grow rose red with guilty passion. "I've wanted to do this for a long time, but I've held back."

She shifts around uncomfortably, trying to work up the courage to say what is in her heart. "I-I want you inside me!"

Alex briskly skips into the room but his jolliness fades when he sees Charlotte kneeling down to a cupcake on the counter. He takes his earphones out and asks "What are you doing?"

"Shove it! I've been on a diet for the last month!" Charlotte yells back at him. "I deserve this cupcake!"

"Cupcakes have about 133.9 calories per serving. The fat calories alone are around 35.8." Alex cheerfully informs Charlotte as she eyes the cupcake with a longing deeper than the darkest seas. "And knowing you it's going straight to your thigh-"

Alex ducks back into a matrix-like dodge, narrowly avoiding a chair Charlotte tosses at him and stands back up straight as if it didn't happen.

"-s and butt." Alex finishes.

"My butt is none of your business!" Charlotte heaves in gasps of angry breaths but his talk about calories gets to her and she gives him the cupcake. "You can have it anyway since I want the sweet taste but not the extra calories."

"Cool." Alex munches down and makes certain to finish it before he starts talking again. "By the way I wanted to start you up on a new training program."

"Tell me that before you eat the cupcake!" Charlotte growls at him and starts mourning for her lost desert.

---

Charlotte sits across from Alex on the floor of the dojo she had built in the apartment. They had both changed into their gi before meeting back up with each other. Alex sets three scrolls out in front of himself and looks up at Charlotte. She hasn't seen him act this seriously in…He barely ever acts this seriously. It makes her uneasy, seeing him like this but at the same time she can't help but feel as if she is sitting with a real master devoted to her training and she can't help but feel a little excited.

"Charlotte." Alex snaps her away from her thoughts and back to reality. He folds his arms over his chest and grins sweetly. "You have no chance of mastering the Bangong Mang She."

Charlotte whacks him over the head with a bow staff that was lying on the floor. "I already know that!"

Alex ignores the attack and doesn't break his serious act. "As I was saying, you can never master the Bangong Mang She"

Charlotte winds up for another hit.

"But! You may have other options." Alex tells her before she can land the blow.

"Other options?" Charlotte sits back down but places the bow staff close enough to grab if she needs it again.

"As you know, when I was younger I mastered a ton of martial arts and travelled the world." Alex reminisces about the past, rubbing his chin as if it was a beard. "I've visited many countries and met many different people. Mostly cute women."

Charlotte smacks him again and Alex ignores the pain throbbing in his head.

"In my travels I learned of a great and powerful warrior known as "The True Master", a person who has mastered all forms of martial arts and attained a level of power above what most humans can achieve."

"And that's the person who taught you the Bangong Mang She." Charlotte beats him to the punch. "Your master."

"That's right." Alex grins his real grin and unfolds his arms, leaning back on them in a more relaxed position. "You've seen me use each one before. Do you remember there names?"

"Let's see." Charlotte thinks it over as she tries to remember. "They where Bangong Mang She the Strike of the Blind Serpent, Tiaoyue de Houzi de Juedou the Duel of the Leaping Monkey and Juedou de Tie Xiong Zhao the Claws of the Iron Bear. Does this have something to do with those scrolls?"

Charlotte notices that each of the scrolls has a Chinese symbol on it 蛇 (Snake), 熊 (Bear) and 猴子 (Monkey).

"Yup." Alex nods. "Inside of each scroll is the instructions on how to learn each art. I was impressed by how you handled yourself during the Brainiac incident."

"So, does that mean you're going to teach me how to use the real Bangong Mang She!?" Charlotte leans forwards as the excitement bubbles up inside of her.

"Nope. You're completely hopeless for that." Alex delivers the crushing line with a tone so sweet it's almost misleading.

"So you're telling me to give up?" Charlotte asks.

"Yes. You'll never be able to master it." Alex confirms and balances the scroll with "Snake" written on it, on the tip of his finger. "You don't know what this technique's true purpose is do you?"

Charlotte shakes her head. "It could be fore sneaking up on an enemy, closing the distance between them before they can move, or turn invisible like you do and catching them off guard."

"It's an art of assassination." Alex's eyes go cold as the words leave his lips. "At the highest form of the Bangong Mang She one can rip the heart out of their target before anyone notices. In some certain cases one can move so quick that the heart will still be beating in the users hand."

Charlotte feels an icy chill deep inside of her chest. It's hard for her to imagine how someone could do something like that. It makes her wonder if Alex has ever done it.

"It's a technique based completely around speed and precision. At its highest form ones hands become like blades, or maybe it's more fitting to say they become like fangs and pierce the target. The assassin has taken the targets life and disappeared before anyone knew he'd even arrived. Its weaknesses are that one cannot turn and keep up the speed, it is taxing on the body when overused and it becomes weaker the heavier the user is. So if someone like Johnny used it he wouldn't be able to break the speed I can. Aside from its weaknesses it provides blinding speed, deadly impact and an incredible surprise advantage over the enemy. It's the ultimate in shinobi killing techniques."

Alex looks at Charlotte who is clenching her pant legs and looking down at her lap. He can see her shaking.

"So, do you see why I don't think you should continue learning this technique?" Alex asks her. "It doesn't suit you at all."

Charlotte doesn't say a word.

Concern overtakes Alex's face for a moment before he pulls himself back into a more happy tone and tries to do the same for her. "But, like I said, you have options."

Charlotte looks up at Alex her emotions still not completely subsided. She watches as Alex grabs the "Bear" Scroll.

"Tie Xiong Zhao is one of these options, but I don't think you should choose this one either." Alex smirks. "Its definitely not for you."

"Why not?" Charlotte pouts angrily, once again being turned down for one of Alex's secret techniques. "That's the one you used to seal the Agent's powers when I was kidnapped."

"There's a reason these three animals are together in a set." Alex ignores her question and moves on. "It's because each one masters a certain aspect of battle. Where Bangong Mang She has speed Tie Xiong Zhao has Power."

Charlotte watches as Alex unfolds the scroll. It is covered in shapes resembling the human body and symbols all in Chinese. It's so detailed that it could take a team of medical doctors ages to memorize even the one body Alex shows Charlotte.

"I've said before that Tie Xiong Zhao is pretty much just a pressure point chart, but actually it's a bit more complicated than that." Alex holds the chart up so she can see. "It's mostly a therapeutic technique which utilizes pressure points around the body to cause different effects. You could use it to seal an enemies abilities like I did with the agent but you could also do the opposite. For instance one could use the pressure points on their own body to cause a rush of adrenaline and reach levels of strength they didn't have before. Of course, this is then counteracted to stop the rush and return the body to its original working order."

"So you can supercharge yourself." Charlotte lifts up her hair. "Like a super saiyan?"

"Kind of, except that if you release too much or too frequently then you could do permanent damage to your body." Alex points to the forehead of the body on the page and looks up at Charlotte. "Do you know what this character on the face means?"

"I don't know very much Chinese." Charlotte looks it over.

Alex crawls closer to her and places his finger on her forehead. His grin becomes sadistic.

"It's the character of death."

Charlotte jerks back when he tells her what the deadly character means.

"Don't worry." Alex chuckles at her. "It wont kill you just like that. It requires a few more points to be pressed at once in order to have an effect. But this is the next point I wanted to show you. Pressure points are used for therapeutic reasons or to enhance ones own abilities but this is the true strength of Tie Xiong Zhao. The Breaking Point."

"Like Bakusai Tenketsu?" Charlotte points out her finger like Ryoga Hibiki from Ranma 1/2.

"Pretty much." Alex nods. "This technique is the ability to find the point in all things where they are the weakest. The weakest point is the breaking point. You then utilize that point to bring your opponent down with minimal effort. For instance, if someone throws a punch you can place your hand in the pit of the elbow and redirect their punches force. Even if it hits it will be weakened. Since you know where to hit to cause the most damage and to reduce the enemies damage you seem more powerful."

"I don't get how this is as good as Bangong Mang She." Charlotte complains.

Alex gets up and walks up to the wall. "These walls are mad out of stone."

"Yeah?"

Alex feels the wall until he finds the perfect spot. "We both know a person can't punch through solid stone with one finger, at least no one normal anyway."

"Uh huh." Charlotte nods. She has no clue where he's going with this.

"Bakusai Tenketsu!" Alex shoves his finger through the wall as if it where paper. After that he turns around and starts talking again. "You find the weakest point in anything and you can disrupt its integrity."

Alex stomps on the ground and the entire wall crumbles away to dust.

"If you find the breaking point even steel can be like paper." Alex grins and makes a fist. "Now imagine if that's a person."

"So that's why its power?" Charlotte grins. "I want to learn it."

"Not for you." Alex tells her. "The principle here is strength beyond strength. Reducing the enemy down to their weakest state and moving yourself up to your strongest."

"So, why can't I learn it?" Charlotte mopes.

"It is an ability which involves rushing in head on and hitting the points. From the beginning of the battle you have to be ready to take damage in order to prevent damage later on." Alex sits back down in his spot. "You would never rush in blindly, searching for a spot to attack. You also have a terrible sense of finding other weaknesses. That's why you made that computer program to do it for you."

Charlotte grumbles but realizes he's right.

"You're a lot like me." Alex's smile becomes warmer and he watches her surprised face. "You like to think things through but at the same time you want to act immediately. You also have that boundless energy which you let off by attacking me."

"I just do that because you're a jerk." Charlotte snarls at him.

"After watching the Brainiac battle I realized it." Alex picks up the "Monkey" scroll. "You're just like me. That's why I'm going to start teaching you about the third aspect of combat. Tactical."

"Tiaoyue de Houzi de Juedou?" Charlotte eyes the scroll sceptically.

"Tactical combat. That's what this technique is all about." Alex smirks. "It is constant movement along the opponents flow and attacking with the opponents body."

"I don't get it." Charlotte sighs.

"That's too bad." Alex gets up. "Because this is the one I'm going to teach you."

---

Alex begins the lesson by setting Charlotte up to attack him as a demonstration.

"The first element in the Tiaoyue de Houzi de Juedou is wind." Alex tosses Charlotte a sword and stands at the ready. "Now cut through my heart."

"Okay." Charlotte gets ready and Alex pretends to be shocked and hurt.

"You agreed so easily without knowing I'll be okay." Alex pretends to cry. "Such a cruel woman. So heartless. Like ice."

"You told me to attack you!" Charlotte snaps at him.

"Great!" Alex jumps back into teaching mode. "Now put that energy into cutting me open. You can't hit me so just try as if you want to kill me."

"That shouldn't be hard." Charlotte grumbles and grips her sword. She runs in at top speed and with nearly perfect form plunges the blade towards his chest.

Next things she knows the sword is in Alex's hand and she is upside down with a splitting headache.

"Ughawha?" Her brain takes a second to process.

Alex flips the sword around in his hand. "You're wondering why I'm not cut when you know the sword touched me."

She flips back onto her feet and nods.

"Well, you are right. The sword did touch me." He pulls out his shirt so she can see the imprint of the blade on the fabric. "But it didn't cut. Now figure out what I did."

Charlotte thinks back. She remembers the blade touching Alex's chest but the rest is hazy from falling back. She knows that he moved but the blade touched him.

"Come on!" Alex gets excited and starts bouncing. "I know you're smart enough to figure this out!"

"Just give me a minute!" The answer practically slaps her across the face and she yells it out. "You moved with my attack! Instead of dodging with your own power you side step the attack using its force instead!"

"Ding ding ding!" Alex smiles practically from ear to ear. "That's exactly it. By using the force behind an enemies attack instead of dodging you flow along with it and gain a fluid movement. It's like you simply fall out of the way. Not only do you receive no damage because you where never hit but you also end up in a perfect position to attack an opponent who can no longer defend themselves."

"That's why this half of the technique is like wind!" Charlotte gets equally excited and their faces come close together as she relays what she learned. "You can't punch the wind because it flows around your fist! So I need to become like the wind and flow around the enemies attack!"

Alex straightens himself up and makes a gratified smile as he folds his arms over his chest. "Excellent. You understand the first half perfectly."

"Yeah." Charlotte bobs her head back and forth. "But that's easier said then done. I can sense the enemies attacks but dodging them in time will take practice."

"You didn't think the worlds most powerful marital arts would be as easy as one day of tutorials did you?" Alex teases her by ruffling her hair. "What I teach you today is only level one and it is up to you to master these parts yourself. Just because you have an amazingly talented, genius, incredibly good looking master doesn't mean you don't have to put forth any effort."

"Yeah yeah." Charlotte grabs his hand off of her head. "So I get why it's like wind but that whole idea can be attributed to water too."

"Water can be blocked easily by human hands and captured through freezing." Alex explains. "But you can't truly stop air without the use of a machine or tool. You need to become like air and move around the opponent. The other reason is that air is the element used to detect the attacks. You will feel an amount of force when someone comes to attack you before the punch."

Alex punches at Charlotte's face, shocking her back into attention.

"You reacted before my punch or the breeze fallowing it would hit you." Alex tells her. "When you are capable of feeling the air moving around the enemies attacking touch you then you will be able to react to it and dodge the enemy."

Charlotte stares at the thing which could have messed up her looks for good and swallows hard, but she understands what Alex is saying and processes it as best she can.

---

The second half of the training begins and Alex has Charlotte within arms reach now.

"The second element of this technique is fire." Alex places his hand on her heart and she slaps him across the face. "Why did you do that?"

"Trying to grope me during practice?" Charlotte eyes him suspiciously.

Alex doesn't remove his hand and continues explaining. "Actually, I'm showing you that fire comes from the heart where wind comes from the mouth."

"And you have to cop a feel to do that?" Charlotte asks him.

"I'm not touching anything." Alex tells her.

"Just watch it." Charlotte gives him an evil eye. "Your fingers drop any lower and you're dead."

"Anyway." Alex moves on and takes his hand off her chest. "In this case fire represents constant movement. While in battle the user of this technique doesn't stop moving and no attack lands only one hit. You attack in bursts like an explosion and never give the enemy time to rest."

Charlotte watches carefully now.

"To do this you need to develop high end acrobatic skills as well as your endurance since constant movement requires a lot of energy. But you're not low on that last one." Alex casually goes on about it. "This will require a lot of training in itself. The scroll I gave you contains certain moves which you will find all flow together. You can reach any one move through another and they are all interchangeable so that you can change up your game depending on the situation. It's complex and any moment of hesitation or distraction can end in a complete failure. At higher levels it wouldn't be surprising if you died messing up."

Charlotte stares down the ominous thought of being killed using one of these techniques.

"At your level you should be able to pull off a few of the maneuverers. At least enough that reading through the beginners scroll will drastically increase your ability to fight but from this point on your training is your own responsibility and you need to keep up a regular schedule which will allow you to preform the moves correctly. That includes planned meals which I will be making for you, since you can't cook, so be greatful."

"Right." Charlotte ignores the comment about her culinary skills and agrees to the plan.

---

The fallowing week was made up of nothing but training and school for Charlotte. She fallows Alex's training regime to the letter and pushes herself far beyond her normal limits. The training itself is tough but she keeps to it and continues trying to master the Tiaoyue de Houzi de Juedou. Johnny and Mary bring snacks which are usually snatched away by Alex and eaten before they can interfere with his meal plan for her. Alex watches her training closely, even when she doesn't know he is there. As he watches her train he can't help but feel a little nostalgic for his own training days. It was one of those rare times he looks back on fondly.

The week goes on like this until one particular afternoon.

Like usual Charlotte is training and today is endurance training. She's been running around the city since school let out and it's nearly dark. She pauses for a scheduled break and goes to a fountain to grab a drink of water when she notices an all to familiar sight.

Alex, who is supposed to be fallowing behind her to make sure she doesn't loosen her focus and fall behind is casually flirting with some jogger chicks in the park.

"So you walk your dogs while you jog?" Alex pets the girls puppies who take to him instantly. "I'm kind of doing the same thing."

"You have a dog?" One of the girls asks.

"Sort of." Alex sends off his winning smile. "But mine's a noisy little mutt. She's always barking about something and never gives me any space. But I guess that's just how pets are."

"Pet, huh?" Alex's face looses all colour as he senses Charlotte's presence looming behind him. "So, first I'm a brat, then I'm your student and now I'm a dog? I'm starting to loose track."

"Oh shi-" Charlotte cuts him off when she grabs his collar and starts pulling him away.

"I'm sorry he bothered you." Charlotte apologizes to the two women. "I'm thinking of keeping him on a leash."

"No problem at all." One of the women tell her and the other one joins in. "We don't mind."

Charlotte tosses Alex up against a tree and stares him in the eyes. She looks like a bully trying to get his money. "I can't believe you'd do that to me after all the work I've been putting into this regime. I've been out here every day sweating like a pig for this and I haven't seen any improvement."

"I've been out here with you, ya know." Alex takes her hand off of him and returns her stare. He may have been wrong for leaving her in the middle of training but that doesn't mean he wont defend himself. "And besides, you are improving."

"I am?" Charlotte backs down at the unexpected comment.

"Of course. I've seen an incredible improvement." Charlotte blushes at Alex's compliments, but like most of his kind words they are either hollow or soon turn sour. "Since you've been busy with training you haven't been pigging out on food, resulting in an improvement in our food budget. You haven't been at home much too, so that gives us an improvement in the atmosphere. There have been lots of improvements."

"Don't mess with me!" Charlotte flips back onto her palms and swings her legs around to kick Alex in the face but he uses Bangong Mang She to disappear right on time to avoid her leg as it plants itself in the tree behind him.

Ale claps, patronizingly. "Very good. You nearly cut one quarter of the way through that tree. In the beginning you couldn't even scratch it without armour on and now you can do that without anything to help at all. And you said you didn't improve."

"But it's still nothing, right? I've been able to memorize how most of the moves in the Monkey Scroll work but I still can't seem to master the basics." Charlotte looks at the tree and for a moment, lets her frustration show through as she clenches her hands and feels tears start to well up behind her eyes. "It's pathetic."

Alex's fist presses up against her cheek as he lets out a sigh and smiles at her. "It's more like impressive. You have to remember that these aren't your regular martial arts. You can't learn them over night, and it was unlikely for you to even master a single attack."

"I'm sure you could do it." Charlotte pouts and lets herself act like a spoiled brat.

"Yeah. By this point I already mastered the basics of the Iron Bear and started on the Blind Serpent. But the monkey is different. It requires a completely different level of ability. It's not easy to complete such complicated moves and not stop moving even for a second. It takes mastery of body and mind as well as a spirit to continue on." Alex holds out his left arm towards the tree and in a blinding flash of skill and power he flips onto it and uses his index finger as support while spinning his legs like a top. As soon as he gets back to his feet the tree falls. "But if your are capable of achieving this enlightened state the results are more than satisfying. And I have absolute faith that you can do it."

"Wow!" Charlotte cries out happily at the feat Alex just preformed. "That was so coooool! I can't wait to learn it!"

"I admit, that this small level of skill may be impressive to a beginner." Alex flips his hair out of his face and smiles smugly.

A police officer runs towards the two, waving his baton in the air. "Hey! What did you do to that tree!?"

"…Crap baskets" Alex grabs Charlotte by the arm and takes off with Bangong Mang She.

---

A little further away in a less populated part of the park, Alex and Charlotte reappear. Even though Alex lands on his feet, Charlotte flies through the air and lands more ungracefully, in a sand box.

"Do you want to blow our cover?" Charlotte asks him sarcastically as he helps her to her feet.

"At this time of day no one should be around here so we shouldn't have been seen leaving Bangong Mang She." Alex tells her.

"And what about the cop?" Charlotte slaps the sand off of her clothing.

"For all he knows, we're Depraved remnants who have powers."

"Great. I love being compared to those junkie morons."

"Anyway, he didn't get a good look at our faces from that angle." Alex pats some sand out of her hair, which she grudgingly allows. "And since this place is completely deserted we should be fine."

"Not completely deserted darling!" Alex feels a sudden pressure on his back, fallowed by two soft cushioning sensations.

"What the hell?" Alex knocks the sudden intruder back and spins around on his toes, ready to fend off any attacks. He's more than a little put off to see a black haired girl with humungous boobs looking up at him.

"That's so cruel." Her eyes fill up with tears as she cries into her oversized sleeves. "And after I searched so long for you."

"Uh…Who?" Alex starts but the girl switches from crying to happy as quick as a light switch. She leaps up and plants his head in her arms, snuggling him like a teddy bear.

"What the hell do you think you're doing!?" Charlotte yells at the intruder.

"I'n uffnoaing." Alex tries to say he's suffocating but his memory suddenly sparks into action and he pulls himself away from marshmallowy death. "I know these knockers."

"You remember me!?" The girl chimes happily.

"Name…Name…" Alex tries to think as the girl cheers him on.

She cuddles up behind him and wishers in his ear. "If you remember in the first three tries I'll give you a nice reward."

Alex swings around, remembering instantly now that he has incentive. "Katrina!"

"You did it!" Katrina jumps with joy.

"I can't believe you some times." Charlotte looks at Alex like he's a piece of rotting garbage.

"Kehehe." Alex laughs it off. "It just takes the right touch to get my memory for names going again."

"Speaking of which." Katrina grabs onto his arm and pulls him towards her. "Time for your reward darling."

Charlotte immediately jumps between them and pushes her away.

"Back off!" Katrina snarls at Charlotte. "What's the idea getting between me and my darling?"

"You're darling?" Charlotte asks her and smirks. "You clearly have him confused with someone else. This guy is a flirty playboy who would never settle down with just one girl. He's the kind of guy who wont settle for anything but the harem end. And even then he'd be a cheater."

"It's nice to know the people you care about think of you highly." Alex grumbles under his breath.

"He may look hot but he's a total looser. He's an anime fanatic who plays dirty video games and looks down on everyone around him. He never cleans up after himself, he spends money like crazy, he's a perverted egomaniac and a psychotic sadist." Charlotte heartlessly starts listing faults like it's nothing.

"At least I'm not a selfish heiress with anger management issues." Alex mumbles but Charlotte hears him.

"What was that!?" Charlotte snarls back at him.

"What!?" Alex sneers at her childishly. "You gonna throw a desk at me you tsundere side quest?"

"Who's a side quest!?" Charlotte grabs him by the collar. "You perverted friend character!"

"Speaking of which, I got Sunohara in Kannon the other day." Alex totally forgets the subject of conversation and moves right to games. "It was hilarious."

"Thats' awesome." Charlotte forgets too. "I always though those two would make a cute couple."

"Ha!" Alex turns straight back into bully mode. "Now who's the pervert!? Charlotte's a fujioshi! Charlotte's a fujioshi!"

Charlotte blushes. "Sh-Shut up!"

Katrina get tired of watching this and her arm turns into tentacles which spring out and pull Alex over to her side.

"W-Wow." Charlotte double takes that. "What was that?"

"What is your relationship with my darling?" Katrina asks, giving Charlotte a murderous glare.

"Relationship?" Charlotte laughs. "We're just good friends. Like I could be with something like that."

"You're lying." Katrina sneers. "You've been running around with him every day and you even live together! Who the hell do you think you are, trying to keep someone else's man all to yourself!?"

"This situation feels familiar." Alex remembers exactly who the girl is as he is being flung around by the tentacles.

"How do you know we live together?" Charlotte asks.

"Ha!" Katrina pumps out her chest proudly and smiles. "It's easy to know things like that when you have my transformation abilities. I can become anything I want, so tracking my beloved darling down was easy."

"And exactly how long have you been watching us?" Charlotte asks against her better judgement.

"Since before you started your silly little training." Katrina laughs. "You didn't even notice me once!"

"You mean you've been stalking us for over a week?" Charlotte starts to wonder about this girls sanity, let alone her common sense. You never tell a person you're stalking that you are stalking them.

"So what?" Katrina asks, lowering Alex down so that she can snuggle him closer to her. "It's not stalking if it's love."

"Alex. You're a psychiatrist. Explain this to her." Charlotte give him the floor since she has no idea how to deal with this space case.

"You're nuts." Alex smiles at Katrina as sparkles light up his kind expression.

"I know I'm a little different." Katrina bobs back and forth as she cuddles Alex in her arms. "But that's just because of all the experimentation that was done on my body. It kinda messes with your mind. That's why they put me in the institution and gave me those injections, but I escaped when I saw your picture in the paper. I really wanted to meet you for some reason and when I found you I just couldn't help myself. So if I am mad then I'm madly in love with you!"

"Sounds legit." Alex looks to Charlotte like everything is all cleared up and they can go on like nothing happened.

Charlotte isn't so sure. "Like we can trust this chick. She's a total whack job and-"

Charlotte goes quiet when Katrina's free arm becomes a blade and she points it against Charlotte's throat.

"You wouldn't be trying to get in between me and my darling would you?" Katrina asks. Madness burns behind her glistening blue eye as she prepares to slice Charlotte's head off of her neck.

"I'm not trying to get between anyone. I don't care who that flake dates, insane or otherwise." Charlotte glares back at Katrina with the same dark gaze. "But if you keep me away from my training any longer I'm going to have to remove you."

Katrina smirks. "I don't care about your training. I just want my darling, so there."

"That wont work. I still need him for my training." Charlotte gets more hostile.

"Then come and get him." Katrina gets ready to attacks but Charlotte falls along with it, pushing herself onto her hands and pumping her feet into the air, kicking the blade up and knocking Katrina off balance.

While Katrina is shocked by her blade being knocked away Charlotte moves in for an attack. She pushes in close and goes for a spinning kick but Katrina's chest forms a shield and blocks the attack.

Alex, who has been released in Katrina's confusion jumps up onto a nearby jungle gym, grabs some snacks out of his jacket and watches the whole thing from there.

---

Charlotte takes a stance she memorized from the Monkey Scroll and Katrina returns her transformed body parts to normal.

"Are you trying to embarrass me in front of my darling?" Katrina asks Charlotte, twitching her fingers as she gets ready to defend against another attack.

"Like I said, I have to get on with my training, and you're in the way." Charlotte decides on her plan of attack and takes a new stance. She moves the right side of her body out in front of the left and raises her right hand forwards. "Besides, I just remembered who you are. I've got a score to settle with you for when you beat me that last time."

Katrina tries to remember and it suddenly comes to her. "You're that blonde girl who was with darling the first time I met him. So, you're trying to get in my way again? I'll have to cut you n to little ribbons, so you can't interfere."

Katrina's arms separate into four blades each. The blades bend and twist like snakes. Katrina pushes them forwards and they all fly at Charlotte from different directions.

"An attack from multiple angles." Alex watches carefully from the sidelines as he grabs a mouthful of gummy bears from his pocket and pops them into his mouth. "How is my first student going to handle that?"

Charlotte remains motionless and waits for the time to act. The blades come down on her and converge towards he chest. The blade sinks into her shirt and Charlotte falls back as soon as she feels the point against her skin. She steps to the side where the blades are dull and they pass by without cutting her. they do make a mess of her shirt though.

"Sloppy." Alex tosses a gummy bear at Charlotte's head. "now you have to fight with half a shirt."

"Shut up." Charlotte doesn't let Alex distract her but instead keeps her eyes fixed on her target. "At least it didn't cut me."

Katrina returns the blades to her arm and transforms them into a blaster cannon. Light pours into the cannon and converges in the centre.

"Oh crud." Charlotte starts running as Katrina fallows her. The blast from the weapon is enormous but Charlotte manages to avoid it by flipping over the powerful force. As soon as she hits the ground, Charlotte falls out her hands and attempts to kick Katrina with her raised legs. Katrina jumps back but is overwhelmed by Charlotte's speed as she goes from spinning to flipping by pushing herself off of the ground with her arms and cartwheels towards her. The cartwheel is fallowed by Charlotte spinning around her arms come down at Katrina so that that she has to grow an extra pair of arms to block all of the hits, but she isn't ready for a sudden flip and kick which sends her flying back.

Charlotte pumps her arm into the air, proud of finally getting the upper hand.

"Idiot." Alex calls out. "Remember to be in constant motion."

Now that Charlotte has paused to feel good about herself Katrina has been given the chance to attack. She fires her fingernails like bullets. Charlotte's hit but not badly wounded. She barely has the time to move when Katrina's blade arm tries to cut open her stomach. Charlotte spins around the blade and elbows Katrina in the face. The attack doesn't do her any harm because she turned her body into water and reforms behind Charlotte. Her liquid arm takes on a blade form again and tries to hit Charlotte from behind. Charlotte feels the point on her back and falls flat not the ground just in time to avoid being run through. She roles back onto her feet and kicks the blade away from the rest of Katrina's body then uses that opportunity to make some distance between them and takes cover behind the playground slide.

"I can't keep going on like this." Charlotte tells herself. "I need to be like wind and fire…But this girl can become anything including wind and fire. She can become water too. Come to think of it, her body is a lot like water, taking on any shape it needs to complete the task. But water can't catch wind. The only way to fight her is to avoid her attacks and wear her down, but since I'm a beginner my body isn't use to these techniques. I'm going to get tired out before she does. I need a plan of attack."

"Why are you talking to yourself?" Katrina asks, standing over the slide and looking down at Charlotte from above. "You'll end up getting your head cut off if you don't keep focused."

Charlotte dives out from under the slide just in time to avoid being cut. Without wasting a movement she spins around and gets to her feet, grabbing Katrina's next blade attack and letting the force of it knock her back. She lands so that the blade will hit the ground before her and grabs it with her feet, swiping off of that she plants her hands on the ground and pinwheel kicks, cutting through Katrina's liquid stomach.

While Katrina reforms her body, Charlotte jumps up to talk to Alex. "Please tell me you have something I can use against her."

"Think she likes gummy bears?" Alex asks.

"Be serious." Charlotte pushes him. "She's trying to kill me."

"Alright." Alex gives her one of his X's. "It's a freeze X. I've only got one though."

"Thanks." Charlotte jumps back down before Katrina's blade can run her through.

"Are you trying to hit on my darling in the middle of a fight!?" Katrina yells at her.

"I'm not hitting on anyone." Charlotte slips the X into her pocket so Katrina wont notice it.

Katrina turns her fist to stone and fires it like a cannon. Charlotte dodges it and moves forward. Katrina turns her arms into blades again and runs in at Charlotte who ducks under the first attack then jumps over the next, landing on the tips of her toes and palms of her hands. Katrina tries to kick her but Charlotte pushes herself back up with her hands and goes right into a spin kick. Anticipating the coming punch after Charlotte's last spin kick Katrina turns to water and Charlotte's hand goes right into her stomach. Charlotte flips back and avoids the coming blades.

"You can't hit me." Katrina tells Charlotte as she prepares for the final attack.

"I admit it. I can't hit you." Charlotte grins back at her. "But I can freeze you."

Katrina looks down and sees the freeze X in her liquid stomach just before it explodes and freezes her from the inside out.

Charlotte watches for a bit, not certain she believes it herself but finally she jumps into the air. "I won!"

Alex jumps down form his watching place and claps. "Great. You demonstrated a decent skill in using the techniques in battle, but you still needed to use the freeze X."

"Who cares?" Charlotte laughs. "I kicked her butt! I got my revenge and I'll never have to see that creepy stalker witch again!"

---

Charlotte sits at the breakfast table with a truly pathetic look on her face as mountains of food are passed back and forth.

"Can you pass the pancakes?" Mary asks Alex who goes to pick them up but Katrina stretches her arm out and grabs the plate before he does.

"I'll do that for you darling." Katrina stretches them over to Mary who grabs the ones she wants with her fork.

"Send sow of those my way." Johnny calls over.

"You're so useful." Alex pats her on the head and she gleams like this is the greatest day of her life.

"Why!?" Charlotte slams her hands against the table and pouts at Katrina. "Why is SHE still here!?"

"Duh." Katrina points to the kitchen where strands of her hair are preparing food. "I'm making breakfast."

"I can see that but why are you here!?" Charlotte grinds her teeth. "Shouldn't you be in a mental hospital somewhere?"

"I go wherever my darling is." Katrina smugly cuddles in to Alex's arm. "Besides, darling said I can live here from now on."

"Did he now…" Charlotte stares at Alex menacingly.

"She's a great cook." Alex grins and tries to talk her away from killing him. "Besides, she promised not to attack you like yesterday again."

"Mmhmm." Katrina reaches out and grabs some more food to pile onto Alex's plate. "But if you try anything on darling I wont be held responsible for my actions."

"Great." Charlotte stabs one of the sausages in front of her violently while looking directly at Alex. "Considering this is my house and all, why not just invite any psychopath in. Sure you can stay. Why the hell not."

"Yay!" Katrina runs over and gives Charlotte a big hug. "We're going to be such good friends now that I don't want to kill you."

"Yippie…" Charlotte grumbles.

---

Hello everyone. Paul again. I'm so happy to be free to walk around again but now I'm not sure where to go. I was able to find a small room filled with food but I can't find the exit. My wounds from the rats have healed over too. I guess things are looking up. If only I could find my way to the surface.

Preview Time:

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RedXJapanCh04 12th Level Intellect the Limit of Human Potential

Ch04 12th Level Intellect, the Limit of Human Potential

Readers beware. Red X Japan contains violence, sexual content and other crap that some readers may find offensive. Discretion is advised.
Red X, Johnny Rancid and other characters are property of their respective creators and DC comics and have only been modified by Human X to fit the story. This is a work of fiction and any resemblance these characters or situations have to anyone in your own life are purely coincidental…maybe.

Clark Kent sits in his hotel room bed thinking over the evens of the past few days as night begins to fall. He lays back on the bed and sets his eyes on the TV, which plays over the interview he gave last night as Superman. Taking down both the Parasite and Metallo drained him of his energy, even if he did have help. He rubs his tired eyes and grabs a laptop computer from the table beside his bed. He looks over the files given to him by Red X.

"My hunch that the file containing a date and co-ordinates where directions for me to fallow brought me right to Metallo's smuggling operation, but that doesn't explain the other files." Clark flips through each one, studying them carefully. "Metallo taking control of this city's gangs and using them for his hired help would explain the drop in crime rates back to one month ago. And Parasite's breakout speaks for itself. What I don't understand is how it all fits in with a map of the rebuilt Oscura sewer system."

Clark looks out his window from the bed.

"Even if I'm not sure I can trust the person who gave me this information, what he's given me so far has been reliable. Then there's that girl from last night who disappeared. There's also Johnny Rancid and his odd regenerative abilities." Clark's eyes peer into the city as if he's trying to find a glimpse of another costumed hero lurking on the rooftops. "I could really use their help. But what still bugs me is what Metallo was trying to smuggle into the city. From what I saw it wasn't the kind of stuff you could sell easily on the streets. It seemed more like something Luthor would keep locked up in a lab somewhere until he could figure out how to use it as a weapon. But no matter how I look at it, I don't have a clue where to go from there. All I have is a map of the sewer system from a source which hasn't let me down so far. I don't like putting all my eggs in one basket, but..."

Clark decides to call it a night and continue in the morning.

---

The next day comes and finally Johnny is released from the hospital. He sits on the couch watching TV and drinking beer until Alex bursts from his room and grabs the beer from his hand.

"Uh…Hello." Johnny says as he watches Alex drip some of the beer into a vile in his hand.

Alex watches the liquid in the vile turn green before fading back into black like it was before he's added beer.

"Welcome back." Alex places the beer on the table and shakes the vile, noticing it switch from black to green as he shakes it. Johnny reaches for the beer but Alex slaps his hand away without tearing his gaze from the liquid. "Beautiful."

"That's my reaction to a cold beer too, but you should get your own." Johnny swipes the bottle off the table and takes a gulp. "What are you even doing?"

"Experimenting." Alex hops over the couch, still holding the vile of now black liquid in his hand. "Do we have any wines or alcoholic anything?"

"No." Johnny lies.

Alex grabs the last case of Johnny's beer from the fridge and walks back to his room. "Thanks."

"Come on!" Johnny calls after him. "I just got out of the hospital! Have a little compassion for a man who almost died! You don't even drink!"

Johnny calms down after Alex has been in his room for a few seconds and he slumps back.

"That guy's crazy." Johnny pouts. "My poor beer."

---

Superman descends into the sewers. The walls are new or partially new with hints of what was left behind by the earthquake. Of course the smell is bad but the muggy air is what really gets to the superhero. Its as if the stench is crawling into his costume and climbing over his skin, like a swarm of bugs.

Superman doesn't have time to let the horrible stench bother him. The sewer map is his only clue to what's been going on in this city. He floats a little above the water, hoping no big waves stir up while he's around visiting. After about seventeen minutes of searching he finds something of interest.

Superman turns the corner and looks down at a tunnel filled with high tech machinery lining the walls.

"This looks like the same technology Metallo was smuggling." Superman uses his X ray vision to look inside of the stone walls. "And there's more of it hidden behind them. I guess Metallo was taken in before he could cover these ones up."

Superman looks around but doesn't notice as a small creature scurries above his head.

"All of the pieces are coming to light." Superman rubs his chin as he puts the pieces together. "Metallo chose to move to Oscura so that he could start a new crime wave in an area without heros monitoring it. He used that seclusion to smuggle these machines to the harbour late at night and had the hired help he was using transport the machines to the sewers. He realized that he needed someone to distract any would-be heroes who might try to make a name for themselves and broke the Parasite out to act as muscle and this all explains why I was given a map of the Oscura Sewer System. I thought something was wrong when I checked out the map online and found that the sewers had shrunk by a small amount. That only leaves one question."

The creatures leaps from the shadows, blades swing out and prepare to strike, but disappear in a flash of red light. Superman's laser vision leaves only a heap of smouldering metal.

"I've seen this technology before, and it is far beyond Metallo or the Parasite. Isn't that right?" Superman looks up and a hulking mass of metal as it lumbers towards him. Its glowing green eyes peer deeply through the darkness towards him. The symbol on its head pierces the sewer tunnels with its radiance as it stands against the man of steel. "This technology is Kryptonian. Isn't that right Brainiac?!"

"Commendable Kal-El." The machines arm reaches out and glows with an intense flame of green. "However, you are too late to stop my plans."

The tunnel behind the first robot fills with reinforcements.

"Far too late."

---

Back up out of the sewers onlookers stare in fear and awe as Brainiac's ship rises from the harbour and descends on the city. It plants itself in the centre of Oscura city, Cimmeria Park. From it an army of Brainiac robots spill out onto the city.

---

Charlotte, Johnny and Mary watch the news report on the Brainiac ship incident.

"Wow." Mary slurps down the last of the sushi in her hand. "That's pretty awesome."

"Think they'll try to destroy the whole city or just take us hostage?" Johnny asks.

"Maybe they'll drop an EMP bomb and take out everyones computers so they're the only ones with advanced technology." Mary thinks over the possibilities.

"What?" Johnny asks her. "EMP?"

"It's a burst of electromagnetic radiation." Mary starts to explain but remembers who she's talking too. "It can make computers not work."

"Oh crap!" Johnny runs to his room. "I gotta save my games! Oh man, where's that one Alex leant me? I almost beat the Hitome arc! Come on! I was just two flags away!"

"What kind of game is it?" Mary asks innocently.

Charlotte puts a hand on her shoulder and looks at her with a half dead gaze. "He borrowed it from Alex."

"Oh…" Mary realizes and nods her head. "So it's one of those games."

"With all the time they spend on those games they could go out and get real girlfriends." Charlotte laughs.

"Don't mock me." Johnny yells out form his room. "If Alex where here he'd tell you."

Just then Charlotte's phone rings.

"I got a text." Charlotte opens her phone and looks at the message. "It's from Alex. It says "get down there". Weird."

"You think he means we should help keep the city from being overrun by robots?" Mary asks. "Guess we could. After all we do live here and if they cause too much damage it'll suck."

"Yeah." Charlotte sighs. "And they might break the mall."

"The chinese food place by the bike shop." Johnny suddenly stands up and clenches his fists. Pure rage seeps out of every muscle on his body. Fury radiates from his eyes in a burning rage of red. "If they lay a hand on it blood will rain from the sky!"

"You need to stop hanging around with Alex for a while." Charlotte tells Johnny.

"It looks like your eyes are on fire." Mary points out. "Or maybe its just an effect."

Charlotte's phone rings again and she reads the message out loud.

"Get down there now. Also, buying dating sims is cheaper than paying for dates with real girls and you can get more than one if you go for the harem end." Charlotte throws her phone. "Disgusting pervert!"

"Does he have us bugged?" Mary asks.

"Well…" Charlotte gets up and stretches her arms over her head. "I guess if Alex says we might as well."

"Problem." Mary stops her. "Weapons, plan, and an army of giant robots. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure my little pistols don't have what it takes to fight off an army of Brainiac-bots. Also, your suit's destroyed."

"Tsk, tsp, tsk." Charlotte waves her finger with her confident smile plastered across her face. "Ye of little faith. Do you think I've been sitting on my butt all night since my fight with Metallo?"

"You fought Metallo?" Johnny asks but the others ignore him.

"My suit may have been destroyed, but out of the ashes a new phoenix shall rise." Charlotte grabs a basket full of stuff from her room. "I give you the latest line of Xenothium based weaponry, by Charlotte Sullivan."

Charlotte starts tossing things into peoples arms.

"Johnny. Here's your new jacket and pants. I'm looking into making a new metal in light of my Metalla failure but these should do for now. When I make the new ones I'll use the same design." Charlotte also tosses him an ear piece and a couple of brass knuckles. "That earpiece is directly linked to my glasses for my costume and can access my new computer system HARDAC incase you need help. I designed those brass knuckles to be pressure sensitive and let off a xenothium shell around the tops. Since the shell is nearly invulnerable energy it can be used as a shield and will give the enemy a good shock, like a high powered taser. If you punch in just the right way your can launch a beam attack too."

"Beam attack?" Johnny looks down at the knuckles and smiles. "Sounds fun."

"For Mary I have your redone suit made to be lighter and sustain more damage than the last one. Both of these factors will be brought into my new metal when I finish it but this should still do for now. I also included these little guys." Charlotte pulls out two dolls, each one nearly half Mary's size. One is a blue Oni with red hair and wide circular eyes with a spear in its hand and an open mouth. The other is a red Oni with blue hair and angry eyes. It carries a club in its hand and has a sinister smile. "The blue ones name is Aoi and the red ones name is Aki"

Mary just stares at the dolls Charlotte shoves into her arms.

Charlotte ignores Mary's silence and continues explaining her creations. "They each use Xenothium as their power source and there triggers are in the backs of their heads. They fire Xenothium blasts from their mouthes and eyes. With this kind of power backing you up you'll have no problem."

"Those things look like carnival toys you'd give a kid. Messed up, freaky carnival toys." Johnny says in his mind but doesn't dare mutter a word of it out loud. "With how Mary feels about the age she looks she'll rip Charlotte a new one for sure!"

Mary keeps starring down at the two new weapons and blushes as she hugs them in closer. "They're really cute."

"No." Johnny tries not to react out loud as he watches Charlotte help Mary get her hands in the back of the weapons and find the triggers. "How does she like those things!? She looks even more like a kid than she did before with those hanging off her arms!"

"Now, Aki and Aoi use two different methods of firing Xenothium. Aki fires in waves and Aoi fires in spirals. They each work off of a new system I'll tell you about later. If you have any questions about how they work just ask me on your com-link."

"Thanks Charlotte." Mary smiles like she's a kid who just received the greatest Christmas present ever.

"Now that I look at it more closely…" Johnny peers at the red weapon Aki. "That smile looks a lot like Alex…It's creeping me out..."

"Alright!" Charlotte stands up and grabs her costume. "And with my new suit hardwired with HARDAC and slimmed down to the basic armour instead of the heavy stuff I'll be all set for this too."

The group goes to their rooms to change and comes back out in full costume.

"We ready to move out?" Charlotte asks as she places her glasses/mask on her face and boots up HARDAC.

"Let's kill em!" Johnny pumps a fist into the air.

"Even though they're technically not alive." Mary raises one of her Oni Dolls mimicking him.

---

A Brainiac droid stands silently by a stretch of rock a short ways from town. Alex tosses an X at it from a cliff close by. The X sparks to life with crimson energy and explodes, blowing the mechanical watchmen apart.

"Why thank you mr. Robot." Alex shakes its smoking hand as he passes it. "I'll let myself in."

He charges up his right gauntlet with energy and punches the rock the robot was guarding and it crumbles away. Where the rock used to be Alex finds a door leading into the ground.

Alex opens the door and climbs in. "Secret agent man, secret agent man. Oh, there giving you a number and taking away your name."

---

The Brainiac droids spread out from the park. They start to fire green laser blasts from their hands at civilians who run away in a panic. One of the laser blasts hits a car trying to speed away. The driver looses control and the car flies towards a lost child.

The sound of metal crushing against itself cuts through the air. The child works up the courage to open her eyes.

"Hey kid, where the hell are your parents?" Johnny asks her as he holds the car back.

"I can't find them." The child breaks into tears.

"Oh, crap." He sets the car down. "Don't freaking cry. Uh…Look!"

He tries to make a funny face but it just scares the kid and she cries some more.

"Idiot." Mary shows up and pats the kid on the head. "Let's go find your parents okay?"

The kid nods and Mary leads her away to find the parents.

"You saved my life!" The man in the car thanks Johnny from the window.

"You're welcome." Johnny focuses his attention on the robot who shot the car. "You could have killed someone!"

"Affirmative." The robot aims its laser blasts at Johnny. The green light flows over him like a waterfall of energy but he emerged without a singe.

"Affirmative huh? You don't think I know what that means?" Johnny snarls at the robot and takes the man out of his car. He lifts it into the air and chucks it at the robot. "It means you think I'm an idiot!"

The car knocks the robot out of the sky and it blows up when the lasers hit the gas tank.

"Teach you for callin' me names." Johnny laughs.

"Affirmative means yes." Charlotte's voice comes in through Johnny's com link.

"Oh." Johnny starts feeling sorry for it. "Teach you for agreeing with me."

"Just hurry up and try to push the robots back into the park." Charlotte cuts through a robots chest with her gauntlets and fires a xenothium blast at another as she gives Johnny instructions.

"Right." Johnny sees a bunch of the robots in one group and rushes at them.

Charlotte charges both of her gauntlets as HARDAC pinpoints the weak spots of the robots.

"And charged." Charlotte grins as she flies into Snake Bandit and scratches each of the robots weak spots in an instant. The robots which where touched break and fall on the ground, while Charlotte flips into the air and lands on a flying robots back she digs her gauntlets nails into its shoulder blades and rips it open, firing a blast of xenothium straight into the opening. She steers its that it creates into another robot and jumps off before the one she was riding explodes.

As soon as Charlotte lands she flips up and lands on another robot, digging her claws into its eyes and using her legs to force its blasts at the ones surrounding her before it stops working. Then she jumps off and slashes one in the stomach before she kicks another one behind her over and grabs a third with her free hand, tossing over herself and launching a waves of xenothium blasts at the rest of the surrounding enemies.

While this is going on Mary has found the kids parents and returned to the battle. She fires a shot from Aoi and two red xenothium blasts come out of its mouth. One straight blast and one which swirls around it like a spiral. It pierces through a line of robots and rips them apart.

"Holy crap that's awesome!" Mary eagerly fires Aki. It sends out a wave of blue xenothium from its mouth in an arc and melts away a large group of robots.

"I wonder what would happen if…" Mary faces towards a sea of them and fires both Aki and Aoi together. The waves converge into a single ball of energy which knocks Mary back as it fires. The ball lands in the centre of the robots and expands, swallowing them all and leaving nothing behind. Mary gets a big happy smile on her face and starts giggling like a mischievous child. "This is gonna be so much fun."

She fires Aki and Aoi, taking out hundreds of the robots with every blast. The robots try to surround her but she gets an idea and fires Aki at the ground. The force of Aki's blast pushes her high into the air like a geyser of blue xenothium and the energy spreads across the ground in a wave, blowing apart the surrounding enemies. They try an air attack and Mary tries firing Aoi this time, straight into the air. The the spiral blasts swirls out like a whirlpool and cuts the enemies to ribbons.

Mary excitedly cheers into her com link as she snuggles Aki and Aoi. "Charlotte! Thank you SOOOOOOO MUCH! I love these guns"

"I thought you would." Charlotte smiles as she slams her hand onto the ground and a big red energy X springs from her fingers. It fires straight up and evaporates a big group which was trying to surround her. "Hey Johnny, haven't heard from you in a while. How you doing?"

"I'm good." Johnny sits on top of an enormous pile of dead robots. One of the robots isn't dead yet and tries to attack him from behind. Johnny just grabs its head and crushes it without putting in much effort. "Yeah. I'd say I'm just about wrapped up here if you guys want any help."

"No way!" Mary giggles as she takes down another group. "This is way too much fun!"

As her foot touches the ground a hand reaches up and grabs her. She almost shoots it but recognizes the blue fabric on the wrist.

"Uh…I may actually have a problem."

---

Johnny comes to help Mary and they pull the hand out of the ground.

"Ah! The hand has a guy attached to it!" Johnny jumps back.

"Holy crap it's Superman." Mary looks at him.

Superman gets to his feet and knocks the dirt off his shoulder.

"It's you." He looks up at Johnny. "That's a relief. Looks like I didn't have to worry so much. You people seems to have this under control."

"More or less." Mary blasts a robot who was trying to fallow Superman up from the ground.

"Did you dig up from the sewer?" Johnny asks.

"Yes. And there's more of them down there." Superman tries to catch his breath. "Those blasts the robots have use kryptonite. Brainiac knew to be ready for me."

"Too bad for him we're not effected by kryptonite." Charlotte takes down another attacking robot with her claws as she reconvenes with the others. "He'd need a lot more firepower than these foot soldiers if he really wanted to do anything here. We'll be done clean up in an hour tops."

Just as she gets close Superman fires a shot at her with his heat vision. The blasts sends her flying right before another attack hits the ground.

"Nice save." Johnny compliments Superman as they all look up at what attacked Charlotte.

Parasite descends from the sky but his eyes are dead and Brainiac's symbol is attached to his forehead. His arms pulsate with green fluids running through his veins.

"Parasite!" Mary gets ready to fire at him.

Superman feels his stomach as he tries to size up his current condition. "He's been altered by Brainiac and he has my power. He's stronger than I am now. And he's not alone."

The ground rips apart as a giant robot rises from the earth. A burning heart of kryptonite blazes from its chest.

"He got Metallo too." Superman starts walking forwards but the group is swallowed up by a kryptonite blast from Metallo's heart.

Charlotte, Mary and Johnny emerge from the blast with Superman behind them, untouched by the attack.

"What are you doing?" Superman asks them.

Johnny grins maliciously at the giant robot. "Don't sweat it. A wimpy looking robot like this can't be much stronger than a Core Gunmen."

"These guys are just a bunch of upgraded bullies." Mary aims her weapons.

"We'll dismantle them in three seconds flat." Charlotte has HARDAC scan them for weaknesses. "So you can just relax. We'll be taking it from here."

---

Brainiac's last guardian robots go down as Alex continues through his secret hideout. He makes his way through the last door and walks into a pitch black room. He looks up at the only light, three glowing dishes in the darkness, and calls out.

"I hope you don't mind." Alex walks further into the room and lets the door close behind him. "I let myself in."

"I have been aware of your presence for some time now." The lights come on and the lights are revealed to be the little disks on Brainiac's head. His body is attached at the base of the neck to a large kryptonian computer covered in screens. The large cord connecting him lowers his body to the ground to properly greet Alex. "It is impressive that you have made it to me."

"Not really. Your security is pretty lax." Alex walks to the table in the centre of the room.

Brainiac does the same. "What is your purpose in coming here? I sense no hostile intent."

"I'm here to play a little game." A chair rises from the ground in front of Alex and he decides to sit in it.

"I have no time for games." Brainiac sits in the chair which appears on his side of the table.

"You're going to want to play this one." Alex grins at him, not holding back any of his ill intent. He waves his hand over the table and a chess board appears. "It seems to be a favourite among my enemies lately."

"Chess." Brainiac remains motionless.

"Yes, but not just chess." Alex leans in and waves his finger in Brainiacs face. "It's so much more than that. We're going to play with peoples lives."

"Sadism is not a quality I have programmed into myself." Brainiac refuses the game. "I will simply kill you now."

"But then I might press this button." Alex holds up a controller.

"I do not see the relevance."

"I know what those machines you have lining the sewers are. They're solar conversion devices." Alex eyes Brainiac, watching for any sign of emotion and loving when he find one. "The robot attack on Oscura, Parasite and Metallo, this entire little mess, has all been a distraction."

Brainiac says nothing.

"Of course I noticed it from the beginning." Alex kicks his feet up onto the table and strokes one of the holographic pieces on the chess board. "The change in weather patterns, the smuggling of solar conversion equipment. The fact that the sky is now two point six inches closer to the earth. "

Brainiac leans in and Alex smiles, knowing what he's got.

"Didn't expect me to catch that one did you?" Alex stops stroking the chess piece and folds his arms behind his head. He watches as Brainiac's interest rises. "The sky above us right now is fake. You've projected an image in order to prevent anyone from noticing what your machines in the sewers have been doing."

"And that it?" Brainiac asks.

"Poisoning the sun." Alex spins his chair, ecstatic that he was able to get Brainiac's attention. "Kehehehe. I gotta admit that using Metallo's smuggling ring as a cover for your plan to set up solar converters and slowly turn the sun red was quiet the layered plan. And brining your operation to an unprotected area like this was perfect. No one would stand in your way and by the time Superman noticed his strength fading away it would be too late. The sky would be your weapon and your could wipe out this planet's greatest protector like a bug."

"Do you see a flaw in my plan?" Brainiac asks.

"Only one. But this is mostly my opinion." Alex looks him dead in the eyes. "I'd have killed the sun completely. Then everyone on Earth would freeze and there wouldn't be anyone left alive to stop me from draining the data from the planet. The way you have it now you're only effecting Superman. What about Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the rest of the superheroes this planet's riddled with. The way your plan is now you don't have a chance of winning."

"And why not?" Brainiac asks. "My plan is perfect. Kal El has already been weakened. The sun has become red and my robots will destroy him."

"That's all fine and good. I mean your plan is zip locked, but you're missing one key factor." Alex grins. "Me."

"You are only one human." Brainiac peers through Alex's taunts. "How can a mere human hope to stop me?"

"There's nothing mere about me." Alex cracks his knuckles and gets ready to play. "Play me and find out. If you win I'll tell you how you can salvage your plan and defeat the rest of Earth's heroes aside from big blue."

Brainiac doesn't say anything so Alex explains the rules.

"Here's how we'll do it. We each have one king, representing ourselves and the regular amount of pieces on the board. Except here's the kicker." Alex grabs one of the pieces and it takes on Charlotte's form. "If one of our allies representing one of our pieces goes down out there, we loose that piece."

"You are at a disadvantage." Brainiac informs him. "The amount of robots I have are more than the amount of pieces on my side of the board. The the amount of allies you have are less."

"I know." Alex shifts in his chair, ready to start the game. "Doesn't that just make it more exciting?"

"Then I will choose random robots to represent my pieces." Brainiac decides to join the game.

---

Charlotte dodges Parasite's arms as he swings at her. He comes in with a punch and she throws up her gauntlets to block it. The punch is stronger than she expected and damages her gauntlets so she ducks out of the way and kicks him over her shoulder.

"This guys is freaking strong!" Charlotte complains into her com link as she dodges a laser vision blast. "Can I get some backup here?"

"I'd love to help." Johnny tells her as he dangles from Metallo's giant jaw. "But I've got a bit of a situation."

Mary dodges Metallo's kryptonite heart blasts and fires both Aki and Aoi right back at him. "This is ridiculous! How thick is this things armour?"

Parasite catches Charlotte with super speed and knocks her to the ground. Superman blasts him off of her with heat vision and nearly collapses. "Metallo is still just a man. His organic self should still be in there somewhere. I'll see if I can find him with my x-ray vision."

Charlotte watches the Parasite get up. "And I'll keep him busy while you do that."

She blasts Parasite with so much xenothium energy that he smashes into one of Brainiac's droids.

---

Alex moves a piece across the board. One of Brainiac's pieces disappears.

"Looks like we're making some headway." Alex mocks Brainiac.

"I do not see why you appear confident." Brainiac moves one of his own pieces, taking down one of Alex's pawns. "I have already removed most of your pieces from the board."

"Yeah, but you're fighting so hard to get them." Alex smirks.

"I admit that your defensive strategy has caused me to utilize much of my resources on this game. And by making the regenerator your pawn you have ensured that most of your pieces will not disappear before the end of the game." Brainiac watches the board, looking for a place to strike. "However you have made several fatal mistakes. By only utilizing your pawns to attack you are loosing precious pieces. By only remaining on the defensive you have yet to take any of my pieces. And by focusing all of your pieces except for your pawns on building a defensive wall around your king you have made it so that as long as only one of your comrades fall you will be open to an attack. You have paid extra attention to your Rook."

"It can only attack in a straight line, but second to the queen it's one of the most important pieces." Alex pokes the piece in the forehead. "I taught one of the fighters out there how to use a technique similar to this."

"The rook is your most important piece in your defence." Brainiac watches Alex carefully. "What if she where to fall in battle?"

Alex leans back in his chair and laughs. "If you can make that girl give up you deserve to win. I chose Mary as my knight because with her size she can pass other players and sneak past your robots without them noticing. Superman is the Bishop because with his flying ability and laser vision he can hit enemies from long distance as long as no one's in his way. We know I chose Johnny as the pawn because I need those pieces to survive longer than the others and thanks to you I can't count on Superman for that role. Not that I'd choose him for that anyway. Plus, Johnny is a short range fighter. As for the queen I have it as a second me. After all I am the most powerful piece in my corner. But if you want."

Alex moves the queen piece out so that Brainiac can easily claim it.

Alex's eyes meet with Brainiac's. "Take it."

---

Parasite tries to get a hold of Charlotte but she matches his movements using Snake Bandit to keep ahead.

"I have it!" Superman calls out to her. "Behind the kryptonite heart. Metallo's real body is there."

"Did you get that?" Charlotte asks Mary through her com link.

"Loud and clear." Mary fires both Aki and Aoi at the heart but the kryptonite beam takes down the blast before it can hit. "Johnny! Get me an opening!"

"Right!" Johnny drops off of Metallo's mouth and grabs a park bench. He tosses the bench at Metallo. The massive robot fires his laser at it, incinerating the bench and showering Johnny in the blaze. "It needs a second to recharge! Hit it when it's done with me!"

"Gotcha." Mary waits until the blast stops and then fire Aki and Aoi. They hit and shatter the kryptonite heart. "I got it!"

"Good." Johnny runs at the robot and climbs up its leg. He gets up to the torso and rips through the remains of the kryptonite heart. Metallo is plugged into the robot's core so Johnny rips him out and the robot come's crashing down.

"Oh crap." Mary realizes it's falling her way and runs for her life asJohnny leaps from the robots chest.

"You okay?" Johnny asks Mary who's fallen flat on her face inches away from being smooshed.

"That was scary!" Mary starts whaling at the top of her lungs.

"Uh…" Johnny tries to think of what to do but just flaps his arms trying to get Mary's tantrum under control. "Please don't cry! We caught the bad guy! Let's go help Charlotte with Parasite now!"

"Okay." Mary sniffs, her eyes still full of tears.

---

"So…" Alex takes one of Brainiac's pawns with one of his own. "Still not going for the queen, huh?"

"It is your most powerful piece." Brainiac returns the attack by claiming two of Alex's pawns with his knight. "You would not sacrifice it without reason."

"I don't do anything without reason." Alex looks at the board and chuckles. "Looks like your knight is gone."

"It was an unessential piece." Brainiac waits for Alex to make his next move.

"But that's just it." Alex makes his move. "Every piece is essential. You only need to know how to use it."

---

Charlotte dodges under each of the Parasite's attack and delivers a few blows of her own.

Superman watches in awe. "He has all of my power and she's dodging him."

"Hang tight." Charlotte calls back to him. "The other have taken down Metallo. Once they get here we'll gang up on this guy."

"They defeated Metallo?" Superman is shocked. "That regenerator and little girl took him down on their own."

"I'm not a little girl." Mary tells him as she appears on the scene.

"That guy wasn't that tough." Johnny yawns. "Don't know why you have so much trouble with these guys."

"A little help here." Charlotte calls out as Parasite finally catches her and knocks her to the ground.

He tries to touch her face but Mary blasts him off of her with Aki.

"HARDAC says that the dishes on his forehead are what's controlling him." Charlotte tells her.

"Right." Mary aims Aoi but Charlotte steps out in front of her.

"This guy's been annoying me for a while now." Charlotte gets ready as Parasite charge at her. "I want him."

Right as Parasite moves into range HARDAC gives Charlotte the signal and she kicks the dishes right off of Parasite's face.

The Parasite falls unconscious on the ground.

"Bored now." Charlotte grumbles. "These guys weren't even worth the time."

---

"Are you ready to end your turn?" Brainiac asks Alex who has left his last pawn out in the open for an attack.

"My turn doesn't end until my finger leaves the piece." Alex waits. Brainiac's bishop disappears from the board and Alex removes his finger. "And there goes Parasite."

Brainiac looks at the board and becomes enraged. "What is this?"

Alex chuckles and stretches his arms behind his head. "That my friend, is a hopeless situation."

Brainiac looks across the board for any possible move to give himself the edge.

"It's impossible." Brainiac places his hands on the table. "My systems utilize the most sophisticated software on any planet. I have played this over and I should have won, but those pieces. You predicted which pieces would fall and how I would move so you laid out a trap. Now I am unable to move, or I will loose."

"You could give up your turn." Alex leans in and taunts him. "But then I will just wait for one of my people to destroy one of your pieces and then…"

"Then I will still be open for attack." Brainiac realizes. "You weren't playing defensively. You where leading me into my own downfall. Waiting for me to place my pieces in the correct place for you to launch a counter attack."

"And by the time I'm done you wont have a piece left on the board." Alex tells him, his sadistic smile burning into his opponent.

"How?" Brainiac asks, gripping the table. "I am a twelfth level intellect. No one on this planet should be able to outmanoeuvre me or read what my moves will be."

"Well, you know what that must mean." Alex rocks in his chair, ready for the big punch line. "I must be above a twelfth level intellect."

Brainiac starts to see what he is truly up against. "What are you?"

"My name is Alex Arkham." Alex's grin widens as he claims his prize. "And I am a fifteenth level intellect."

"Impossible." Brainiac stands up. "The limit of human potential in this time is-"

"Then I must be above human potential." Alex leans back once more.

"Then you shall be studied." Brainiac raises his hand and two tentacle-like cords come out from the chair.

Alex raises three fingers and lowers them one by one. When the last finger falls so do the cords.

"They look a little limp." Alex taunts Brainiac. "Don't worry it happen to everyone."

"What is going on!" Brainiac grabs his head and falls to the ground. "What is this!"

"You never asked why I wanted the chess board to simulate the battle going on back home." Alex stands up and walks over to Brainiac. He stands in front of him to make it look as if Brainiac is bowing to him. "Your logical brain is just so predictable. Its how I knew you'd move right into my trap. I just needed to prod you into the right direction and you placed your pieces perfectly. And I am so glad you did. After all if you weren't giving it your all to beat me then you might have noticed my virus eating through your systems."

"A virus!?" Brainiac snarls.

"Yeah. A virus." Alex smirks down at him. "Don't worry. It wont kill you or anything. It's just going to erase the past few months from your memory. You're going to forget everything that happened, including me and my friends and I've made sure you will never try it again."

"So you copied my plan and used the game to distract me as your virus did this."

"Give the man a prize!" Alex laughs. "There is something working that little green head after all! But you also missed that at the same time I was here distracting you I had a friend of mine rewire your little solar converters so now they're healing the sun instead of killing it. As for your robot army they're going down with you."

"I'll kill you." Brainiac swears.

"No you wont." Alex pats him on the cheek. "You're going to sleep and when you wake there wont be enough of me left in your memory banks to haunt your nightmares."

Brainiac's eyes close and his systems shut down.

---

Everything happened as Alex said. Professor Chang had rewired the solar converters so the sun returned to normal within a few days. Parasite and Metallo suffered memory loss as a result of Brainiac's brainwashing and couldn't remember past the time they fell under his control.

A short time passes and it is time for Clark and Lois to go home.

"See ya around." Johnny waves as Clark and Lois get ready to board their plane.

"If you get anymore big scoops like that invasion incident I'll be around." Lois tells them.

"That was an interesting day." Clark laughs. "I don't think I'd want to go through something like that again."

"That was pretty awesome." Alex gives Clark a look and checks his watch. "Oh, crap. I gotta go to work. I'm sorry."

"No problem." Lois waves as he runs off. "That kid needs to get his head on straight."

"I need to go too the bathroom." Clark hands Lois his stuff.

"The plane's about to leave!" Lois calls after him.

"I won't take too long!"

He meets up with Alex beside the bathroom.

"How much do you know?" Alex asks him.

"Johnny is a regenerator, Mary was that little girl who helped him take out Metallo. Charlotte has to be the other girl and I have a pretty good idea about who you are." Clark gets serious. "Thank you for all the clues."

"What are you going to do about it?" Alex asks him. "Both Johnny and I are criminals."

"Well, I guess I should take you in." Clark smiles and pats him on the back. "But if it weren't for you this whole mess could have gone a lot worse. Let's just say, you keep my secret and I keep yours."

"Deal." Alex looks out where Lois is standing. "Better get back there before she blows her top."

"Oh, right. Lois." Clark waves and runs out. "See you around!"

"See ya." Alex waves back.

---

Paul here. Wow. I couldn't believe my eyes. A horde of giant green robots. I thought I was going to be crushed but one of them accidentally knocked the rubble keeping me trapped away and now I'm free to walk again!

Preview Time:

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Red X Japan Chapter 03 To Test His Metal

Ch03 To Test His Metal

Readers beware. Red X Japan contains violence, sexual content and other crap that some readers may find offensive. Discretion is advised.

Red X, Johnny Rancid and other characters are property of their respective creators and DC comics and have only been modified by Human X to fit the story. This is a work of fiction and any resemblance these characters or situations have to anyone in your own life are purely coincidental…maybe.

Hello again. Paul here. I'm still trapped under this fallen debris but to make matters worse my little mouse friend began using me as food. I only have my one arm free now after a second cave in brought more rocks down on me and now I'm licking the condensation on the walls just to get enough moisture to live on. I would have focused on escaping but I'm too busy trying to keep little mouse's friends from eating me. I feel so cold.

---

"Doctor! What do you mean his wounds are too fatal?" Alex slams his fist against the hospital wall.

Charlotte wipes the tears from her eyes. "They said there's nothing they can do. The damage was too sever. Johnny…Johnny is."

Alex holds onto Charlotte as she cries into his chest. "D*mn it! He was my best friend. Why!? Why did this have to happen!?"

"Can you guys please shut the f*ck up? You're disturbing the other patients." Johnny grumbles at the two hamming it up at the end of his hospital bed. "And stop pretending I'm dead."

"Like a few mortal wounds to some useless vital organs could kill you." Charlotte slaps Johnny on the back, much harder than she should.

Alex joins in and smacks him across the back too, right on his shoulder wound. "Besides, we'd have to kick the writers butt if he tried to kill you off."

"Are you sure you're doing okay?" Mary asks Johnny from her seat on the end of his bed. "You seemed like you where in pretty bad shape when Superman brought you in."

"Please." Alex crosses his arms and laugh like an old man from a kung fu movie. "My student is not so weak a mere super villain or two would be able to kill him! Hohohohoho!"

"You never taught me anything!" Johnny yells at him.

"You're so mean!" Alex cries into his sleeve. "It breaks my heart to hears those hurtful words from your lips." Alex grabs onto Johnny's collar and cries into his chest. "Is this really all I mean to you!? And after I gave you my heart and my body!"

"What the hell!? That never happened! Let go of me!" Johnny tries to rip him off of his chest. "This is gross!"

"Is that any way to treat your bestist friends in the whole world who come to visit you in the hospital and even bring you treats."

"Cold coffee and gummy worms aren't the best for people in emergency recovery." Johnny grumbles.

"But seriously, how are you feeling?" Charlotte asks, dropping the jokes. "I heard you had a hole in each shoulder and one in your chest."

"Actually, when I woke up this morning they where gone. I still have to stay in the hospital for a bit but I'm pretty much a hundred percent." Johnny shows them his chest which is clear of anything even resembling a bruise let alone a gapping hole. "It's like I rejaculated over night."

"You mean regenerated." Charlotte corrects him.

"Yeah." Johnny agrees. "I dunno for sure but I think I may be a little immortal."

"That's cool." Alex slaps him on the back. "That means you don't have to worry about dying. Let's have a little sparring match sometime."

"I can't die but I still feel pain. Besides, I don't know for sure if that's what it is."

"You're no fun." Alex mumbles just before Clark Kent and Lois Lane walk into the room.

---

"Hey Lois." Charlotte says as the reporter comes in, nearly dragging her larger companion behind her.

"We heard what happened." Lois says with a concern in her voice lasting only seconds before she whips out a recorder form her pocket. "Let's have a word from the second person Superman saved in Oscura. I heard you where pretty banged up when you got here. And thoughts on your quick recovery? Are you a user of any super drugs circling around the city?"

"I-I got stabbed." Johnny tries to keep up with her but I'm afraid his mind isn't used to such a rapid barrage of questions. "Superman fly and now hospital. Hi."

"He's doing a lot better now." Charlotte answers for him. "As for Superman he says he can't really remember anything."

"Really?" Lois gets suspicious.

"Yeah." Johnny laughs off Lois' menacing stare. "All I can remember is something attacking me and then I was in the hospital. I guess whatever it was knocked me out."

"Maybe it was the T's." Alex brings the possibility up.

"Who are the T's?" Lois asks.

"Just a little street gang who are trying to take over Oscura since the Depraved are no longer around." Alex tells her as if he'd heard it from someone else. "I heard they might have some super drugs which give people super powers."

Alex glances towards Charlotte for a moment, giving her the hint to leave.

"Don't you have to get back to work, Alex?" Charlotte tells him.

"Right." Alex grins stupidly. "Better get back before I'm fired."

"Can you give us a ride?" Mary asks.

"Sure." Alex waves to Lois and Clark as the group leaves. "See ya later. Feel better Johnny."

"I need to take off too." Lois says. "I need to check out this area of Dusk Street. Apparently it got pretty banged up while you where unconscious. Maybe I can find a scoop there."

"See ya." Johnny waves to her as she leaves but grapes Clark's arm before he can get too far away. "Hey. You know Superman, right?"

"Well, he shows up from time to time." Clark tells him. "Staying around Lois I can probably find him."

"Can you tell him to keep what happened last night a secret?" Johnny whispers so Lois can't hear. "I don't want the others to find out. Charlotte and Alex took me in when I was at a really low time in my life so I don't want to make them uncomfortable, you know?"

"I understand." Clark smiles kindly and leaves to catch up to Lois.

Johnny counts the time in his head and then grabs his phone. "I told him what you said I should. You shire it's a good idea to lie to Superman?"

"No. But I can guess at the range of his super hearing so you should be good as long as he doesn't try to listen in." Alex assures Johnny. "Still, be extra cautious. You're an ex-bounty hunter with a long line of dead bodies behind you and I don't exactly have nothing to lose since Red X became a well known face in the media a while back. If he caught on to our identities then we'd be in prison pretty quick."

"Alright." Johnny agrees. "I'll be grounded for a while since I'm being kept for observation so you'll have to keep tabs on the others for me. We may be in deep s*it with our records but the girls are clean as far as the police know. Keep them out of trouble."

"Sure." Alex hangs up.

---

Clark Kent talks into his phone as he searches through a stack of papers in the small apartment he's staying at. The newer ones are all focused on the Parasite.

"That's alright. I didn't expect anything to show up. Sorry for wasting your time." Clark picks up a particular sheet of paper which prints out of his computer. "No. This list will be a big help. Thanks Bruce."

Clark hangs up the phone and walks up to the balcony. He looks over the paper once more.

"Only one transfer going from Metropolis through Oscura." Clark takes off his glasses and leans onto the edge of the balcony. "Not much to go off of but it's a start."

A warm breeze blows through Clark's hair and he looks down at the city.

"Unusual weather we're having." Clark quickly shoves his glasses back onto his face and looks towards the direction of the voice. The white skull shines with the bright orange of the sunlight reflecting on its surface. The intensity of the light blurs the black of his cape and body armour together, creating the illusion of dark fire. His tattered cape spreads out against the sunset as Red X stands. "I've been waiting to see if you could figure it out on your own. Here's what you missed."

Clark catches a USB that Red X throws to him. "What's inside?"

"The missing piece of the puzzle." Red X gets ready to leave but Clark stops him by calling out.

"Stop." Clark resists the urge to reach out and prevent him from leaving by force. "Do you know what's happening?"

"Everything I know is on that." He points to the USB. "With your powers I'm sure you can handle the rest."

Clark becomes serious, peering at Red X and taking of his glasses. "But how do I know I can trust you. You're a criminal yourself aren't you. Or maybe the media has the wrong idea about you."

Red X looks towards Clark. "I'm the only lead you have right now."

"At least tell me why you're helping me. And why you're wearing a led lined mask."

"You peeked." Red X waves his finger. "That's against the rules, but I'll tell you why I'm helping you anyway, not that it's an important reason. I like this city so I don't want what he's planning to succeed. That's all I'm giving you."

After that Red X jumps off the balcony and swings away, leaving Clark to contemplate using the USB.

---

Clark mulls through file after file on his computer, glad that he had chosen to do so. His glasses flicker as the words fly across the screen.

"A file on a covert plan to move the Parasite from Metropolis Penitentiary to a newly built facility, a detailed list of crimes in oscura dating back one month ago, a file called Drop-off with a date and coordinates inside and a map of Oscura's sewer systems from the time of its rebuilding after the earthquake to a week before. Each of these items keep data from one month ago until now. This could have something to do with the earthquake." Clark looks over the items in the USB. "I guess I should go for the one that doesn't have anything to do with one month ago. It only has a date and coordinates which add up to tomorrow at three by the docks. I'm not sure, but I believe my new friend has given me an invitation. I'd hate to be rude and disappoint him."

---

The next day at Charlotte's house. Charlotte sighs and lays back into the couch. She's been laying around doing nothing but surfing through channels on TV.

"I'm so bored!" Charlotte yells and squirms around in her seat.

Mary smiles. "It's alright to have days like this, where there's nothing to do."

"But it's so boring and hot!" Charlotte hug the pillow in her arms and grumbles. "Why is it so hot when it's so dark out?"

"It's only nine."

"It sucks!" Charlotte realizes hugging the pillow is only trapping the warmth between them and kicks it off of herself. "Let's go get slushies."

"You already had one today." Mary tells her like she's her mother.

"But I want one." Charlotte snaps and stands up, swinging her shirt off and tossing it at the pillow. "That's a bit better."

"At least have some modesty." Mary sighs out of disappointment in Charlotte. "You realize that you're a lady right?"

"Who cares?" Charlotte tosses her socks off too. "Johnny isn't getting out of the hospital until tomorrow and Alex hasn't left his room in the past few days. I'm sure he's getting enough eye candy off his erog anyway."

"Did someone say my name?" Alex peeks his head out from his room. Charlotte's face goes beat red. Alex slams the door shut seconds before an onslaught of flying objects impact with the wood. He slowly opens the door again. "What the crap was that for?"

"You stupid pervert!" Charlotte yells at him. "As if you don't know."

"I am seriously at a loss." Alex tries to tell her. "I don't even know why you're angry. It's just YOUR bra. It seems like such a SMALL thing to complain about. Are you sure you're not overreacting a LITTLE."

"Stop putting so much emphasis on the "small" words!" Charlotte snarls at him as she uses her pillow from before to cover up. "You know I'm above average!"

"I understand. Can you do me a TINY favour and get me A CUP of juice? My MINI-fridge is all empty." Alex slams his door shut before Charlotte can nail him with a lamp. He starts making fun of her through the closed door. "I'm done anyway. This conversation's getting a little FLAT."

Charlotte stands steaming with anger and yells at the ceiling before stomping off to her room. She emerges a moment later dressed to go out.

"Are you okay?" Mary asks her.

"Fine." Charlotte stomps over to the door. "I'm just going to get some air."

Charlotte slams the door behind her.

---

The night brings no release from the heat of the day. Tonight is just as hot as day. The waves beat ferociously against the shore and even though the night breeze flows across the sky even it is warm. Superman floats down onto a warehouse rooftop and watches as several men run out from the door beneath him.

"Looks like that tip was right on the money." Superman thinks to himself as the men run up to a ship pulling in. "But what does this small group of criminals have to do with Parasite? And what about the other items? I might as well wait and see."

Superman's body tenses when he sees a familiar figure step off of the boat. His gleaming eyes peer deeply through the darkness of the night. He reaches out a metal hand and directs the men towards the warehouse. They step inside.

"Metallo." Superman tightens his fists. "First Parasite and now Metallo joint the party. This isn't looking good."

Superman places a hand on his stomach. "And then there's that. Maybe I shouldn't go this alone, but it would take too long to call for backup. Whatever Metallo is planning it can't be good."

Superman tries to look through the warehouse roof but it is lined with led on the inside. "Apparently you know I was in town. Guess we'll have to do this the old fashion way."

---

"Hurry up!" Metallo yells at some of the men working under him as they haul humungous creates into a transport truck inside the warehouse. "We need to get this to the headquarters before morning."

The henchmen back away as the doorway turns red and blows off of its hinges.

Superman floats into the room and clenches his fist, ready for a fight. "Sorry. I let myself in."

"Superman?" Metallo's silver coloured teeth gnash against each other. "I knew you would get in my way at some point."

"And exactly what is it I'm getting in the way of?" Superman floats upward to get a better look. "Seems to me like you've gotten into the smuggling business. Lex corp products?"

"Actually, no." Metallo rips his rib cage open, revealing his kryptonite core. "I don't know who the supplier is."

Superman dodges the beam of emerald light which threatens to tear the power from his body. Using his super speed he flies around and grabs Metallo from behind, forcing his rib cage shut. "You should know better than to take things from strangers. Are you sure you're telling me the truth?"

"I guess you'll never know." Metallo flips Superman over his shoulder and he goes flying across the room.

Superman stops his decent towards the ground and sends Metallo in the other direction with a heat blast. He has to dodge as a blue stream of light nearly singes his cape.

"Those are not the same weapons used against me during the museum situation." Superman studies the layout of the machines before lighting them up with his laser vision. "But they are familiar."

The hired help backs off but Metallo rushes in and attacks Superman head on. Superman dodges as Metallo strikes at his head, but his super speed keeps him out of the cyborgs reach. Superman breaths in and sends Metallo back with a blast of compressed breath.

Superman gets ready to take Metallo down when two hands reach out from behind him and grab his face.

"Metallo!" An angered voice pierces Superman's ears as he feels his power draining from every cell in his body.

"Parasite." Metallo gets back to his feet and greets him. "Where have you been? Thanks to you we're behind schedule."

"Maybe if your assassin didn't try to put me under ground I'd be in the mood to improve my work ethic." Parasite moves in and fires a blast of heat at Metallo.

"Are you seriously trying to betray me?" Metallo deflects the blast and rips a support beam out of the ground, tossing it at Parasite who catches it and bends the beam in half.

"Betrayal? You want to talk about betrayal?" Parasite moves in closer. "When you sprung me you said we where going to create a new crime syndicate together in this place where no super-heros live. You said it would be easy and we would run this place together without any interference from capes. But then you sent that mercenary assassin after me, making me think I was hunting him when the whole time you had him on the payroll to kill me. Trying to muscle me out of my cut?"

"What are you talking about?" Metallo is cut off by another heat beam blast. He shakes it off and pushes back towards Parasite. "I never sent any assassin. I've been working the docks while you where supposed to cause people to avoid the area."

"Your lies aren't going to save you." Parasite reaches for Metallo but only feel cold metal underneath his fingertips.

"You idiot." Metallo slaps him away. "My body is machine. Do you think you can absorb my power so easily?"

"No." Parasite jumps forwards and tackles Metallo to the ground. "But I have Superman's strength. And that should be enough to crush you."

"Think about this!" Metallo shouts into Parasite's face. "Why would I want to have you taken out at this point in the game?!"

"To take my cut." Parasite gets ready to crush him.

"Superman is in town you moron!" Metallo finally gets the Parasite's attention. "Why would I have you killed while he is still a threat!? Our biggest enemy has been lying on the ground over there the entire time you and I have been chatting and we're fighting each other instead of tearing him into a bloody rotting corpse!"

"That's right." Parasite lets go of Metallo and lets him get back to his feet again. "With him gone we could have Oscura and Metropolis."

"Forget cuts." Metallo pats Parasite on the back. "With Superman gone I can take Metropolis and you can have Oscura all to yourself."

"I like this plan." Parasite grins. The two villains move closer to Superman as he tries to make his weakened body move.

---

Metallo and Parasite close in on Superman as he lays, unable to get his body moving.

Just as the two approach him their cheeks are cut by two claw-like knives.

"Who's there!?" Metallo and Parasite whirl around to face their attacker.

The minions Metallo had acquired fall to the ground as the silhouette of a single figure stands in the moonlight.

"I stand for love! And I stand for justice too!" The figure waves her arms around in familiar poses. "I am Kitten! And in the name of the moon, I will right wrongs and triumph over evil! And that means you!"

"What was that?" Parasite watches from bellow.

"Good thing I got here when I did Superman." Charlotte puts on her best heroine voice. "Don't worry! I'll take care of these villains!"

Inside Charlotte's mind right now:

"Teehee. This is so cool! I thought I heard something going on around here but I didn't expect to find this. I'm totally gonna save Superman! Let's see Alex top this one."

Back to reality:

"Now evildoers!" Charlotte points down at Parasite and Metallo. "You shall feel the cold sting of justice!"

Charlotte jumps in between Metallo and Parasite and tries to slash Metallo with the claws on her gauntlets. Metallo's fake skin is sheered away, revealing the silvery gleam on his artificial bones. Charlotte pushes her arms out towards the two enemies and fires two powerful crimson blasts from the gauntlets. The blasts knock Parasite and Metallo away from Superman.

"Are you alright?" Charlotte helps Superman to his feet.

"I just had the wind knocked out of me." Superman tells her. "Does everyone in this city wear led under their masks?"

Charlotte touches the mask covering the area around her eyes and cheeks where the mask is covering. When she developed this suit after the fight with the Depraved she never used any lead.

"I appreciate the help, but these two are deadly criminals." Superman gets his balance and starts moving forwards. "It would be best if you got away from here."

"Parasite and Metallo." Charlotte taps on the edges of her mask, controlling the images reflected in the eye protectors and quickly reads over their data. "A power absorber, contact condition and a JLA level cyborg. They're both generally easy to understand."

Superman silently watches her continue to read.

"The cyborg has a Kryptonite power core but the other one has the contact condition so I could take them both on but since they're JLA it may be best to team up." Charlotte realizes that Superman is starring at her. "Oh, I'm sorry. I have a mini computer hooked up to my mask. It's my own design. I control it by pressing the mask on certain spots in different patterns. It can also be controlled verbally if I need to, but I find I can do things faster this way."

"Um. No, it's not that." Superman tells her. "You seem pretty confident despite the situation."

"That's just because I'm awesome." Charlotte brags. "I don't want to sound like I'm bragging but I've pretty much mastered a bunch of martial arts and some which are pretty high class, like assassination techniques and stuff…not that I'd ever assassinate anyone. But it's always good to be prepared right?"

"Yeah." Superman feels a wound from yesterday getting to him he grabs it and cringes at the pain.

"Did you get that from when you saved Joh-that guy I read about who was attacked?" Charlotte jumps when she gets an idea. "I'm guessing that wound hurts a lot. It might be hard to fight both of them at once. I'll take the cyborg then since I wanted to test my metal out in a real fight anyway."

Superman feels the pain in his side and sees the villains getting closer. "I may have to take you up on that."

Superman tackles the Parasite using his cape to shield himself from his enemies powers and drags him out of the warehouse.

"I need to finish this fast and get back there to help that girl." Superman looks back for a moment. "I hope she can hold out that long."

---

Charlotte's claws rip across Metallo's face. She ducks under a punch and spins on her heel, bringing the opposite heel up and kicking the outstretched arm, forcing it towards the ceiling. She tries to rip at his chest but she had knocked his body too far and misses so she spins and tries to cut his leg. He Jumps and flips around her attack. He plants one foot on the ground and kicks up with the other but misses her face by a centimetre. She uses the opportunity to go for his chest one more time and reaches her caws up, but he steps out of the way and punches her in the stomach.

The armour protected Charlotte from any danger but she could feel the punch connect. She runs in and tries to land a series of punches but is blocked at each strike. Metallo grabs her arm on the last attack and bends it behind her back.

"I should have been able to rip through this by now." Metallo pushes Charlotte's arm up her back. Her feet start to leave the floor. "That's some impressive costume. It looks like fabric but there's more too it than that isn't there?"

"HARDAC. Voice Controls activate." The eyes of Charlotte's mask light up with data as she executes her escape. "Xenothium Surge."

Red Xenothium energy bursts from her suit, forcing Metallo to let go and becomes lost in the crimson light.

"HARDAC Return to Manual Controls." Charlotte begins tapping the side of her mask while she looks at Metallo who is getting back up. His metallic body doesn't have even a scratch. "Come on, find a weakness."

As Charlotte's computer, HARDAC, scans Metallo's body for any sign of a weak point he runs in and tries to punch Charlotte. She spins and knocks the punch out of the way with her left hand while attacking using her right. Metallo blocks it but before he can do anything Charlotte spins in the opposite direction and elbows his face. Switching directions again Charlotte sends another attack to his chest, this time ripping at it. She tries to rip his chest open to get to his Kryptonite heart but it wont budge. Metallo seizes the moment and brings his elbow down on the arm, grasping his chest. Charlotte lets go and Metallo kicks her onto her back. She pushes her weight onto her shoulders and jumps right back up, brining her palm out and blasting Metallo with red energy. He walks through it unharmed and slaps Charlotte across the face so hard she falls to the ground.

Metallo goes in to attack her but Charlotte grabs his arm and uses his weight to pull him off balance. Her foot connects with his stomach and she flings him into a pile of boxes.

While he is unable to tell what is going on Charlotte jumps up to the second story railing and hides.

"What the hell is going on?" She looks at her suits damage. "He damaged the targeting computer in my left arm, but that's made out of my Metalla. It's supposed to be stronger than Metallo's body."

Metallo gets up from the boxes and grabs a nearby create.

"I know you're in here!" Metallo tosses the create at the railings, but Charlotte is not where it hits. "Come on down and play girl. I promise I'll make this as quick as possible."

"My Metalla was made using information about the Metallo this guy is made of, so how am I the one taking damage?" Charlotte wonders. She thinks back to when Alex decided not to wear Metalla in his suit as an armour. "Did he know about this? The armour is stronger than reinforced steel but did he find a fatal weakness he didn't think I'd end up against if I started using it? he told me he didn't want to wear it because it restricted his movements so that's why I found a way to condense the weight and size into this fabric but…"

This time Metallo hits his mark. Charlotte summersaults out of the way before the create destroys her hiding place. Metallo leaps up from the ground and climbs up the railing. He rips off a piece and throws it like a javelin which Charlotte jumps over. She returns the attack by firing a few blasts of Xenothium energy.

Charlotte uses the muscle enhancer to leap away before Metallo can reach her, and she lands on the floor.

The letters in the eye pieces whiz by at top speed. Charlotte checks every one before they disappear and finds nothing that should effect the integrity of her metal.

"Crap." Charlotte decides to try a test run and attack Metallo as he jumps down from the railing. She charges up her left gauntlet and punches Metallo in the face with an extra blast of xenothium energy exploding from her knuckles. It knocks Metallo back but doesn't hurt him or knock him off his feet. He runs back in as soon as the impact stops pushing him away.

Charlotte jumps in and flying kicks his face. As soon as her feet are planted back in the ground she spins and kicks his across the stomach. He goes to slap her across the faces again but this time she blocks with her gauntlets. The left one is hit by Metallo's hand and Charlotte is tossed cross the room.

Charlotte looks at her gauntlet. Terrified her eyes widen as they take in the sight of her Metalla gauntlet smashed into pieces. It barely holds on to her arm. Charlotte gets up nervously as Metallo comes closer. His eyes glowing in the darkened room. Charlotte keeps looking down at what is left of her destroyed gauntlet as he comes up to her. His hands close in on her neck. Without a sound she is lifted off the floor.

"Once I'm done with you I can catch up with Superman and Parasite. I need to pay him back for betraying me." Metallo glares at Charlotte as he holds her motionless body in the air.

Charlotte clenching her fists through the mangled gauntlet. She thinks about Alex. "He knew they weren't complete but he didn't say anything."

"Thinking about regrets?" Metallo asks her. "That's a waste of time when you're faced with death. You should be thinking about happy things since you'll never be experiencing any of them again."

"He was just humouring me since it was the only thing I could do." Charlotte thinks about her training this past while and bites her lip. "That's not it. He was just being considerate. He didn't want to tell me I'd failed. He couldn't tell me what I made was a pale imitation that would crumble when faced with the real thing."

Metallo's hands tighten, closing Charlotte's neck a little more. Her breaths grow more desperate as her mind swims with new thoughts.

"You b*stard, Alex." Charlotte bites down harder, until blood drips from her lip. "Why do you have to pick the most incentive times to be a nice guy!?"

Charlotte's leg bursts up and kicks her body away from Metallo. Charlotte lands on all fours but instantly lifts up her hands and blasts Metallo with a high power blaze of xenothium energy.

As Metallo tries to recover Charlotte boots up her computer again. "HARDAC, Damage Report."

"Left gauntlet 80% damage, right gauntlet 30% damage, neck bracers 30% damage, left leg 2% damage." Charlotte's earrings act as microphones and lists off the damage. "Warning. Left gauntlet unusable."

"I can work with this." Charlotte gets ready. Metallo comes running at her. Charlotte takes her stance. "Just breathe."

Charlotte breathes in slowly. Metallo is practically on top of her, ready to take her head off with a single punch. She exhales and disappears before the metallic hand can touch her.

"What?!" Metallo doesn't have time to gawk. Charlotte's legs wrap around his neck from behind and toss him backwards into the air. He tries to land on his feet but they are shot out from under him by Xenothium blasts.

"Stage one of Bangong Fang She." Charlotte stands over Metallo confidently glaring down as if looking at a piece of scrap metal. Blurs of red light stream across her eyes as her computers systems all push themselves to maximum power. "Yao Duo Shuang Tou She Qiangdao."

"Bang on what?" Metallo gets up and tries to grab charlotte by the hair but she spins around six time, each one connecting a kick to his stomach. The kicks pulse through his armoured body. He kicks her legs out form underneath him but she plants her hands on the floor and turns the force of his attack into her upside down kick. Before he can move she hops up, landing with a kick onto his face and jumping off using that force. Metallo gets up and uppercuts her in the stomach but once again Charlotte uses his own power to boost her own move and grabs his arm, flipping over him and launching a blast into his back.

The now red Metallo armour begins to bubble.

"How!?" Metallo cries as the so called invincible armour slowly melts.

Charlotte holds out her palm towards him, the area where her armour fires the blasts is melting into droplets. "I may not be able to handle full Bangong Fang she myself just yet, but by controlling HARDAC's systems manually I can push the correct sections of my muscle enhancers to the limit without reaching a breaking point and destroying the machines. Now, I wonder which one of our metals will last the longest against the heat of full power Xenothium Energy Blasts."

Metallo attacks but Charlotte vanishes once more. She fires off another blast from behind and then from the side when Metallo tries to turn around. She continues letting off blast after blast of attacks from her gauntlet.

Metallo can tell that his body is feeling the effect of the energy and tries a depurate attack. He watches Charlotte's pattern of attack and predicts when she will be closest to him. In that split second she is beside him he slams his arm against her throat and she crashes into the wall. it begins crumbling around the area she hit.

Charlotte Gets back to her feet but not before Metallo grabs her neck and slams the back of her head into the wall three times. She gasps, extremely happy that the armour keeping him from crushing her neck is holding on. She tries to blast him with her right gauntlet but Metallo crushes it.

"No more energy blasts." Metallo breathes hard into Charlotte's face. He's ready to rip her apart.

Charlotte just glares up at the menacing enemy holding her in place. "I don't like you."

"Does that really matter?" Metallo asks her.

"Not to you, but it does to me." Charlotte grabs his arm which is holding her still, as if her tiny hand could simply brush it away. "I had a lot of pride in this armour. I spent a long time trying to make it into the perfect shield for the day I got to meet him."

Metallo tries to break free but HARDAK's muscle enhancing system keeps him steady under Charlotte's small hand.

"At first I thought he was my hero. I even threw myself off a rooftop just to get him to take me seriously. But in reality he's a perverted, otaku, jacka*s without even a semblance of humanity. He's violent, rude, obnoxious, uncaring, self centred, obsessive jerk-wad!" Charlotte breaths in after yelling that last line so loud. "But you know what? He is always looking out for me. He's a mad genius who can find the weak points in anything. People, super powers and even my Metalla armour. That's why he taught me about xenothium and why he taught me martial arts. He saw the weak point in my armour. Not the one I built for him but the one I built around myself. He saw through my anger and confidence and saw that I was just being to small minded. He's constantly breaking down my armour and making me angry or sad, just to remind me how inferior I am to him."

"Seem like a nice guy." Metallo reaches back. "Too bad he had to be your last thought."

"He can see everything I can't. He's knows I'm just a regular girl despite all of my defences. That's why." Charlotte's eyes light up with a passion to fight as her eyes are completely overtaken by the glow in her eye pieces. "That's why he's always pushing me to surpass my limits! So I can become more than that!"

A blast of Xenothium explodes from Charlotte's mask, forcing Metallo off of her and freeing her form his grasp.

"Now do you get why he taught me the Snake Bandit and why he never told me about the weakness of my armour?" Charlotte grins sadistically as her armour lights up with Xenothium power. "He never told me because he wanted me to find out on my own and learn form my mistakes. And he taught me Snake Bandit so that I could do something about it when I found out."

Charlotte disappears into a blaze of red light and jabs her fist straight into Metallo's stomach. The HARDAC's performance enhancing tech drives the power of her fist deep into the enemies armour. After that it lets off a humungous stream of xenothium energy engulfing Metallo.

"I used to think of him as a hero." Charlotte brushes the hair from her face. "But he turned out to be just like an annoying big brother."

Charlotte goes to catch up with Superman but a skeletal metal hand reaches out and grabs her by the arm.

"I'll kill you!" Metallo screams as he goes to crush her but she fades away from sight. She reappears a few steps away and holds each of her palms to the opposite shoulder.

"It doesn't look like you've realized how powerful I am!" Energy bursts from Charlotte's suit, ripping the floor around her apart and forcing Metallo to a stand still.

Metallo pushes through the wall of force holding him away from her and attacks but his fist goes straight through her head. There is no contact and the image of Charlotte fades away. Charlotte's hands grab his head from behind and the glowing energy around Charlotte's suit focuses towards them.

"HARDAC! Full power Xenothium blast!" Charlotte's palms blaze with all of her suits energy. The power is so great it melts away the last of her arms Metalla. She breathes heavily and falls on her butt. "I didn't think manually guiding the flow of Xenothium energy throughout my suit would be that tiring. It had a really cool effect though. I've never been able to go that fast using Snake Bandit. I bet Alex didn't predict my new computer would have so much power. heh. heh."

---

Superman returns just after the battle ends, with an unconscious Parasite in a bag. When he returns Charlotte is gone and Metallo is laying in a wreck. He gives the two criminals over to the authorities but returns to the warehouse to check out what they where planning to smuggle into Oscura.

---

"I never should have sided with you." Parasite complains as he and Metallo are being transported out of the city. "This was all your idea."

"The plan was sound." Metallo corrects him. "It was going to work."

"You never told me the whole plan." Parasite grumbles. "What where we supposed to do with that stuff anyway?"

"I-I don't…" Metallo grabs his head as a shooting pain runs through his mind.

"Hey!" Parasite stands up. "What's going on!?"

The door to their quarters opens and a deep green glow fills the room.

"The plan will become clear soon." A calm voice calls from the door. Metallo's eyes dim and he gets to his feet as the man in the doorway enters.

"The plan is ready." Metallo reports. "Everything is in place for the final stage."

"Hey. I know you and I don't want any part of what you've got in mind." Parasite tries to step past the man but he grabs him by the hand and Parasite falls to the ground.

"Compliance is not a request." The man tells him. "The final stage must be completed."

Start the Conversation

Red X Japan Ch2

Ch02 Strong As A Locomotive

Readers beware. Red X Japan contains violence, sexual content and other crap that some readers may find offensive. Discretion is advised.

Red X, Johnny Rancid and other characters are property of their respective creators and DC comics and have only been modified by Human X to fit the story. This is a work of fiction and any resemblance these characters or situations have to anyone in your own life are purely coincidental…maybe.

Hello again. Paul here, well I haven't had any food all night and while I was sleeping another of the caves crumbled down on me. Oh no, I'm fine. Thank you for asking. It's just that my leg has been caught under some rubble and now I can't move from here. It's alright though. I've met a little mouse who seems to also be stuck here and we've become quite fond of each other. I just hope someone finds me soon.

---

The sun burns brightly in the sky today in Oscura. It's beams seem even more bright since Superman came to the city.

Johnny shields his eyes from the sun as he steps out from a small bike shop with a paper bag in his left arm.

"The hell?" He cringes at the natural light. "I wish it would go back to blizzards. At least then I could freaking see half the d*mn time."

"Still, it's better than being cold." The shop owner leans on his shop door and smirks, grease dripping from his gloves. "Now you take care of that part there. I had to get you on six waiting lists just to get half the parts on that little baby. It was a hell of a lot more expensive than I thought too."

"You bet." Johnny grins happily. "Maybe now I can get my girl flying again."

"Well, take care." The shop owner closes his door and heads back inside.

Johnny starts walking home but Punk Rocket runs out in front of him, dragging some amplifiers on a dolly.

"Oi!" Rocket yells out, trying desperately to keep himself from gasping for breath but failing miserably. "You ain't…huff…Got da time to b-be…walkin' 'round…like you. Hwah! Own the place."

Rocket pulls himself together and raises his pick into the air.

"You ain't got s*it on me now Rancid!" Rocket yells out at the top of his lungs. "I got me some new tech froma very powerful source! Sonic Tech! An it's gonna rock yo world!"

Johnny breezes past him without noticing and continues walking home.

"Oi!" Rocket yells back after him, kicking his amplifiers around so they face Johnny. "Now die wit da power of rock!"

Rocket brings his pick down on the strings, releasing a furious sound wave which hits Johnny in the back dead on, shredding his shirt clean off.

"Now ya see the power I got ya jerk!?" Rocket laughs happily. "Whatcha gotta say now?!"

Johnny turns back around, revealing the crushed part he just bought, completely destroyed and lying on the ground.

"Now die!" Rocket lifts his pick to make another strike but Johnny's fist rips through the guitar like it was paper and crushes Rocket's stomach.

Rocket drops to his knees and spews on the ground.

"D*mn." Rocket lands with his face flat on the ground. "That seemed a bit harsh."

Johnny storms back into the bike shop. "Hey! I need you to reorder those parts! Some dumb*ss with a guitar! I dunno! I think he was a hobo looking for cash or something! How should I know!?"

"So…" Punk Rocket cries a little. "So harsh."

---

"I still don't get it." Charlotte grumbles and stares at Alex from the couch beside his. "How did you know Superman was in Oscura. And how did you know he'd show up to take down that Bad Stan guy?"

"Mad Stand." Alex tries to work out some documents for his job on his computer. "It really isn't that hard to figure out. Just keep trying with the clues I gave you."

"What clues?" Charlotte snarls. "You just went on about punch and stuff."

Alex sighs and rubs the bridge of his nose. "You're hopeless."

"Well, fine then." Charlotte tosses a couch pillow at him. "I don't care how you did it then! You probably just saw him somewhere before everything started happening and are just trying to look smart!"

"That must be it." Alex agrees with her half heartedly.

"Jerk."

Mary smiles at the two of them. "I can't believe you where lucky enough to see Superman. That's so cool."

"Eh. I don't get what's so special about him." Charlotte nods her head back and crosses her legs. "He was just like any other super hero I've seen. He just shows up, throws the bad guy around a little and leaves. I mean, he was even blown through a wall by Mad Stan."

"The criminal activist who held up that burger place last week because they stopped serving chilli fries after three?"

"I wouldn't call him a criminal activist." Alex adds in. "More like a radical nonconformist. He just doesn't like doing things the same way as everyone else and in his case thinks that justifies his ridiculous actions. He's most likely a spoilt child used to getting his way and trying to rebel against a system which caters to his every need."

"Is that your professional opinion doctor?" Charlotte asks him with a snide tone lining her words.

"He must be very rich to be able to buy a gun that can hurt Superman." Mary tells them. "I thought I'd look into sonic technology since it's a non-lethal weapon. But it was way too expensive and they don't seem to sell much of it legally."

"All weapons are lethal." Alex corrects her. "Sonic technology as a hand held weapon has been employed numerous times throughout the ages but it has mostly been kept as high profile in the military or sold on the black market. In the later case it has been used as a powerful way of counteracting superheroes. It is most definitely deadly."

"You mean like, how you can use sonic vibrations to split a persons head open, or by using the right frequency you can cause steel to crumble." Charlotte asks.

"Exactly. If used correctly sonic vibrations could work much like my Wenrou Bangong De Fangshi (Way of Gentle Strikes). At that point invulnerability doesn't hold much weight." Alex thinks back to the Superman incident for a moment and decides to raise another point. "But what we saw wasn't the same as regular sonic technology. Somehow Mad Stan's weapon converted sonic waves into a blast of physical energy like a laser beam. It's been done before by members of Multigon and some regular people have been able to do it, but I don't recognize the design of the gun itself. It doesn't match Mad Stan's military motif so he didn't customize it after buying it from another source. That means that he didn't create it himself either. I doubt he has the mental capacity to do something like that either."

"So what you're saying is that someone has copied the technology and sold it to Mad Stan?" Charlotte asks.

"No. The tech is definitely new. Judging by how the handle was positioned and the placement of the conversion device the gun doesn't match any of the technology currently in rotation either in the underworld or the military. We're looking at a completely new sonic user. Most likely a scientist who stumbled upon the knowledge and decided it would be more profitable to sell his weapons on the black market instead of going for the recognition."

"Wow." Mary beams. "You're so smart. I can't believe you remembered all of that after just seeing it once."

"And he wasn't even paying attention the entire time." Charlotte grumbles. "He was too busy drinking punch."

"It was good punch." Alex smiles. "But it seems we have someone taking advantage of the fall of the Depraved so that they can start selling weapons without being muscled out of their profits. Since he sold to Mad Stan I'm guessing he sells to anyone who pays."

"Sounds like this guy could become a pain in the butt." Charlotte sighs. "Should we track him down and stop him?"

"I don't see why we should." Alex objects. "If we let him o about his own business we may be able to use him or his tech later on. Besides, it isn't our problem so why should we be the ones to deal with it."

"But who's going to stop him if we don't?" Charlotte tries to continue arguing the point.

"The police."

"He does have a point." Mary tries to settle Charlotte down. "It is the job of the police to take care of these things. It might take them some time but if Alex says it's alright."

"I guess." Charlotte backs down and slumps back into the couch. "But what about the monster sightings?"

"Monster sightings?" Mary asks, shaking a little as her hands grip the sides of the couch.

"Yeah. I heard about it from a friend at school." Charlotte smile becomes hauntingly dark. "There have been several cases of people running into a giant monster in the east section of Dusk Street. They say its massive and it has beady glowing eyes. It attacks late at night and holds onto the victim, sucking their life away through the teeth in its hands. It forces them to the ground and sucks their souls out of their chests, howling like a demon."

"Mnnn." Mary clenches her pillow to her chest as shivers run up and down her spine. She buries her face into the pillow as Alex silently sneaks up behind her.

"So far there have been only a few sightings of the creature but it's supposed to be ten feet tall and covered in pulsating veins with a gapping mouth filled with teeth." Charlotte continues to tell her story, slowly turning from her regular voice into a whisper. "Some people say it is the soul of a man who committed suicide after his true love cheated on him with another man. That's why most of his victims are pretty young girls. He waits for them to walk alone at night and when no one's around he reaches out and grabs her by the arms screaming-!"

"Ryaaaah!" Alex grabs Mary by her arms and yells.

She nearly jumps out of her seat. Realizing she'd been tricked Mary's eyes fill with tears.

"Eh?!" Alex cringes as tears stream down Mary's cheeks. "You made her cry."

"Me!?" Charlotte almost falls off the couch. "You're the one who snuck up behind her and scared her half t death."

"But you where the one who told her that scary story. Though, I must admit it was pretty good for something you made up."

"I didn't make it up. I really did hear it from someone in class. Apparently it was on the news but barely any people saw it because of the Superman uproar."

"You…hu…guys are…s-so…mean!" Mary tries to calm herself down but can't choke back the sniffles.

"Aw." Alex scoops her up into his arms like she's a crying child. "That's a good girl. No one's gonna hurt you."

Charlotte glares at Mary disapprovingly. "Aren't you supposed to say something like "Put me down! I'm not a child!", or something?"

"I would." Mary clings onto Alex's shirt, her face going red. "But I can't move for some reason."

Charlotte grumbles and gets up off the couch. "Anyway, I gotta go."

"Where too?" Mary asks.

"I have a date with Lois." Charlotte grabs her coat.

"I didn't think you went for the married to her job type." Alex grins.

"It's a lunch date, not a real date." Charlotte shoots him a dirty look. "And it's none of your business what my type is."

Alex and Mary flinch as the door slams behind her.

"What's with her?" Alex asks.

"Are you sure you're a psychologist?" Mary asks him. "Because you kind of miss the obvious signs."

Alex tilts his head and tries to think about it but Mary pinches him on the cheek.

"You owe me for making me cry." She demands. "Ice cream. And lots of it."

"Ice cream it is." Alex gives in and goes to grab his wallet.

---

Clark Kent walks alone through Dusk Street. The paper in his hand has a hastily drawn map on it in blue pen. He tries to read the nearly indecipherable little street names but comes up with nothing. He wanders around shifting his eyes from the aper to the buildings around him.

As Clark passes an alleyway a younger man with a T painted over his face silently begins to fallow him. He comes up behind him and pulls a knife out of his pocket. Reaching back he prepares to plunge the knife into Clarks back.

Clark adjusts his glasses and begins to turn around but before he does the man fallowing him is kicked in the head. The impact of the foot knocks him straight into a wall and makes him drop his knife.

Alex sets his foot back on the ground and smiles at Clark. "Luckily for you I saw him coming."

"Thanks a lot." Clark says as he looks down at the mans knife. "I didn't even see him coming."

"You should keep your ears open." Mary tells Clark as she happily lick a massive ice cream cone and Alex picks the knife up off the ground. "A lot of gang members tend to hang out around here."

"Then shouldn't you stay away from here too, little girl?" Clark asks her.

"Little girl?" Mary snaps off a bit of her cone with her teeth at that comment.

"She's fine with me here." Alex tells Clark.

Clark lets it go and returns his attention to Alex. "I guess you're right. Those martial arts must come in handy. So, what are you up too?"

"Buying ice cream for the little girl." Alex purposely avoids telling Clark about Mary's condition.

Mary shoots him a dirty look and decides to play this game herself. She looks at Clark with big teary eyes and a quivering lip. "This man told me if I went with him he'd give me ice cream. But then he got really mean and tried to touch me in a private area."

Clark looks at Alex with wide eyes and the two of them stand there silently before Alex decides he should come out with the truth.

"She's got systemic hypoplasia. It prevents her body from aging and she's actually about ten years older than I am." Alex pats Mary on the head as she smiles like a sweet little kid.

"Oh…" Clark takes a breath in relief. "You had me worried for a second."

"That will teach you for making fun of another person's condition." Mary proudly takes a bite out of her ice cream.

"So, whatcha doin' wandering around Dusk Street?" Alex asks Clark who shows him his map.

"Trying to figure out Lois' directions."

Alex looks at the sore excuse for a map. "You're trying to get to Hotel Noir? That explains why you're cutting through Dusk Street. It is faster going this way but it would be safer to go through the park and come out at the north entrance."

"Thanks a lot." Clark tells Alex and gestures to the unconscious man with a T on his face. "I'm not sure I want to run into anymore of these guys."

"See you later then." Alex begins walking but as they are about to move past each other he stops for a moment. "Besides, I hear monsters have started showing up around the south of here."

With that Alex walks off with Mary skipping along behind.

---

"That was interesting." Mary tells Alex as she takes another big bite of her ice cream right off the cone. "You didn't have to give him so much information."

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Alex smirks and starts eating his own ice cream.

"Right. And here I thought that those rumours said the monster was in the east." Mary plays along with him. "And yet you made a point about it being in south Dusk Street. Must be my imagination."

Alex reaches down and rubs a smear of vanilla off of Mary's face with his finger before putting it in his mouth. "Guess you're right. My mistake."

---

The day begins to grow late and one particular person soldiers through the darkness, a defeated scowl painted across his unshaven face.

"Man." Johnny sighs and rubs his aching shoulders. "I can't believe how cheap some people are. It aint my fault some jerk broke that stupid part. The freaking shop b*stard didn't even let me explain. Not even Charlotte would lend me any money. What's a few hundred thousand between friends? I guess she wants me to pay back those other loans I asked her for first…But I haven't had a job for a whole year now and there's nothing in this city for an ex-hitman. Maybe I shouldn't of put that on my resume…"

As Johnny walks past an alleyway he notices a purse laying on the ground. He walks up and opens it.

"Wow. There's nearly enough to cover half my loan from Charlotte in here." He looks around to see if anyone is watching him before he starts grinning. "Well, whoever they are, they can't be that bad off for carrying this much dough around in a purse. Stupid too. This is Dusk Street after all."

Before he leaves he hears a thump coming from the shadows in the alleyway.

"Uh." Johnny panics. "I was just taken' it to the police! I wasn't gonna steal it or nothing."

Johnny stops panicking when he begins to see the outline of the thing making the noise. A hulking purple mass slowly emerges, its form taking shape in the moonlight. Its eyes glow like fireballs embedded in a deformed face with a gapping, drooling mouth.

The creature drops a woman onto the ground. She is unconscious but still breathing. The creature takes a moment before realizing Johnny's presence and reach its arm out towards him.

Johnny steps back, forcing the creature to move closer into the moonlight.

"You saw me." The creature speaks, standing straight. "That's no good."

It reaches out for Johnny again. This time moving much faster but Johnny ducks under its hand and scoops the unconscious woman into his arms.

"Sorry purple…man…thing." Johnny starts running at full speed down the alleyway. "But if this chick is the owner of this purse I'm gonna get a pretty sweet reward for finding it and saving her life."

The creature catches up to Johnny in seconds. It reaches out again but Johnny uses a dumpster to boost himself up onto a fire escape. he starts climbing.

Johnny looks back down to see if the creature is fallowing him which it does easily. He finds an open window and places the woman inside with her purse.

"Evening miss." Johnny says to the woman living in the apartment. "Would you mind calling this young lady an ambulance?"

Johnny starts climbing again. Just before the woman in the apartment cal call him back to her the purple thing leaps up her fire escape.

When the creature makes it too the roof Johnny is waiting for it. He gets ready for a fight as the creature eyes him.

"Good job moron." The creature laughs at him. "You trapped yourself."

"Yeah, well!" Johnny just notices that there aren't any rooftops on his side of the building to jump too. "You're wearing green underwear!"

"It goes with the purple skin." The creature moves in closer. ready to grab him at any second.

Johnny charges in and jabs the creature in the stomach. It connects deep and lifts the creature off of its feet.

Johnny's eyes widen in pain as he feels a sharp pain in his arm. The creature grabs onto the arm and Johnny's neck, its grip tightening by the second.

"I guess you don't recognize me." The creature laughs as he holds Johnny still. "You must not watch much TV. My name is Rudy. I'm the Parasite."

"I don't know who you are." Johnny says with a dull look on his face.

Johnny's strength drains quicker now as Parasite grips onto his arm more. "Then let me introduce myself."

The Parasite tosses Johnny over the side of the building and he hits the ground. Parasite fallows after him.

Johnny gets up and rubs the back of his head where he hit the ground.

"You should be dead." Parasite sneers at him.

Johnny spits on the ground. "I'm pretty durable."

"I could use some of that." Parasite goes to reach for Johnny but he ducks out of the way again and dives between his legs.

As the Parasite turns Johnny goes to punch him in the face. It connects but with little power behind it. The punch drains Johnny's strength even more and gives it to Parasite.

Parasite punches Johnny in the stomach which knocks him back a bit. Johnny chooses to retreat and starts running.

"D*mn." Johnny books it as fast as he can down Dusk Street trying desperately to think of some way out of this. "I can't hit that guy or he'll drain my strength away. That last punch hurt a lot. I guess he's been draining strength from people for a while and it all built up. Come on brain! Think! Think! Why does planning look so easy when Alex does it? Wait!"

Parasite catches up to Johnny and grabs him by the head. He tosses him through the boarded up window of a condemned building and jumps inside the same way.

Johnny starts to get up but Parasite kicks him down then grabs him by the neck and holds him against a wall.

"No where to run." Parasite cackles.

"I got a question." Johnny says. "Is that green speedo made of fabric?"

Johnny's knee nails Parasite between the legs so hard her drops down and lets him go. As Parasite kneels in pain Johnny runs away.

"Wow. I almost didn't expect that to work." Johnny says to himself as he looks for a place to hide. "I thought the fabric would protect me from his powers but I was half expecting it not to have junk."

---

The chase continues through the night. Johnny keeps only one small step ahead of the Parasite.

The Parasite leaps forwards, catching Johnny by the ankle. Johnny kicks him off but he can feel the tole all of this draining is taking on his body. He's low on energy and failing fast.

Johnny runs until he meets a dead end. Hearing the Parasite closing in from behind Johnny tries to open the door beside him. It's locked and the Parasite grabs him from behind. He elbows him in the gut and when his grip loosens punches him in the jaw. He uses the opportunity to grab a garbage can lid off of a nearby can and smacks the Parasite over the face with it. This would have worked if Parasite hadn't already taken so much of his energy. The hulking purple mass rips through the lid and pushes Johnny up against the wall, draining his energy through his arms once more. Johnny can't hold back his screams any longer as the agony of the Parasite's powers forces him to loose control of his voice for a moment.

In a desperate last attempt at escape Johnny grabs a knife from his pocket and slashes the Parasite across the face, blinding him with the blood. Parasite cries out in agony and grips his blood covered face as Johnny punches the door so hard it crushes the lock and swings opens.

The door leads into a dark meat locker. Johnny hides in among the hanging corpses of frozen animals, falling down hard against the farthest corner of the room. His breath is heavy and his muscles ache from the struggle. His consciousness can't take much more of this things attacks.

"One more touch and I'm through. This guy goes head to head with Superman. How am I supposed to-" Johnny realizes how he sounds in his own mind and bites his lip so hard it bleeds. "The hell am I thinking?! If that smug b*astard could see me now he'd say something like, "I don't want a Vegita character who can't even handle some reverse coloured hulk" or "I can take this guy out without even using my final form". Yeah, that's exactly what he'd say."

"Peekaboo." Parasite peers into the dark meat locker, searching for his prey.

"I may not be as smart or as fast as him." Johnny takes off his jacket and peers through the darkness, his unseen eyes gleaming with a deadly crimson light. His eyes are like still pools of blood. "But I'm sure as hell as crazy."

Parasite quietly looks around in the dark, unable to locate his target. He swings around as he hears the noise of something moving in the shadows but it is too late. He screams as his right shoulder is impaled by a flying meat hook. It digs into his shoulder and pins him up against the wall.

"GYAAAAH! Fu-!!!" Parasite is cut off as another hook flies out from the shadows and implies his left leg.

"Surprised?" Johnny's voice echoes from the blackness. "Granted, this hiding in shadows thing isn't my usual style. But anything to get the job done."

Another hook flies out but this time Parasite uses his free hand to catch it.

"Whatsa matter big man?" Johnny's voice mocks the Parasite again. "You where looking so big just a minute ago. I guess you can't hurt what you can't touch. That was a bit of a problem for me. Usually I just punch the f*ck out of whatever happens to tick me off but I can't do that with you. So I thought I should start using my head and this is what I came up with."

Another hook assault. This one is deflected by the hook Parasite already caught, but the damage he received is taking its tole.

"I used to be an assassin you know." Johnny sends a decoy one with a dead cow hanging on it. Parasite uses it to protect himself from the real attack which fallows. "I've been living the easy life for too long. Forgot how easy it is too spill someones blood."

Having taken enough of this abuse Parasite rips the hooks out of his should rand leg, tossing them back into the dark and searching around for Johnny. "Coward! Where are you! Come out here and fight me!"

"You know, I was just thinking it was about time I did that." Johnny's body starts to become visible as he steps further into the light. "I prefer beating the life out of my opponents with my own hands anyway."

Ceasing his chance the Parasite reaches out to grab Johnny by the arm. Johnny's fist collides with the Parasite's face. The impact knocks the Parasite back against a hanging piece of frozen meat.

"How?" Parasite wipes the blood from his face and look at Johnny who holds up his right hand, wrapped in his jacket.

"Metalla version 3 fabric. Harder than any substance known to man but it looks and feels like leather. I gotta hand it to the kid. She knows her stuff." Johnny cracks his knuckles under the jacket. "The best part is that it let me punch you all I want without worrying about your pesky powers. Shoulda thought of this a long time ago."

"Meta-" Parasite grinds his teeth together as he gets back to his feat. "Did Corbin send you to take care of me? I get it. He wants to muscle me out of my share. Well, I aint gonna die without a fight."

Parasite runs in and attacks Johnny. Johnny moves out of the way and cracks one against his face. The impact knocks him back again but this time the Parasite wont back down he goes for it again and again but can't get near him. Johnny nails him in the face with two more straight shots in a row and he looses his balance.

"Ring out." Johnny smiles victoriously.

"You're gonna kill me now, right?" Parasite snarls. "I'll fight you till I don't got anymore life in me."

"I would." Johnny stretches his neck to get the cricks out. "But I don't do that anymore. I used to a lot but I'm not getting any money out of this so I just don't feel like it."

"Stupid move." Parasite grabs onto Johnny's ankle with his foot and the last of Johnny's strength is zapped from his body. He falls to his knees as Parasite rises.

---

"Ah. Feels good." Parasite flexes his newly amplified muscles and picks Johnny up by his collar. "Now I'll show you how to end a fight."

Parasite lifts Johnny over his head, bringing him down on a meat hook. The hook breaks through his rib cage, ripping through his lung. Blood pours from Johnny's chest as he tries to move, but his body wont listen to him. parasite drains more energy from him as he beats on his face over and over again. He grabs the chain holding the meat hook to the ceiling and throws it across the room. Grabbing two more he stabs them through Johnny's arms and nails him to the wall.

"Ow." Johnny says, holding back his pain.

"Too tough to scream?" Parasite asks.

"No." Johnny grins up at him, crimson death still burning in his animalistic glare. "I just know someone who would kick my a*s if I let myself give in to someone like you. To be honest he scares the crap out of me."

"He scares you?" Parasite laughs. "Then I must be making you s*it your pants."

"Shut up." Johnny grins right back. "You're nothing compared to him. Don't even try to put yourself in the same league."

"Oh? Must be a real monster?"

"Hehehe." Johnny laughs through his perched lung. "I honestly feel bad for you. I've seen some weird sh*t in my line of work. Most people don't even experience stuff like that in their nightmares. But watching that man fight. It's terrifying, and somehow inspiring at the same time. He's my best friend but he scares the s*it out of me. If it where him instead of me, you'd be laying on the ground in a puddle of your own p*ss. So don't you dare compare yourself to him you worthless, insignificant parasite."

"That may be so. But I know someone like that too. A pretentious prick who stands above the world casting judgement on the rest of us." Parasite grabs a hook off the wall and reaches back to strike Johnny with it. "But neither of them are here right now. And it doesn't matter how much power your friend has. You're still going to die."

Blood splatters across the floor as Johnny's heart is ripped open by the hook. His body is pulled off the meat hook and thrown into the corner.

---

Parasite wipes the blood off his hands and gets ready to leave. Before he can get out of the building a flash of red light explodes in front of him, tossing him back into the meat locker.

"I thought those rumours sounded like the work of someone I knew." Superman defends and walks in through the door. "Good thing I decided to take a midnight stroll down south Dusk Street. Out for a midnight snack Parasite?"

Superman immediately notices the body laying in the corner, covered in blood.

"No." Superman's eyes widen in horror. Those eyes burn red as he returns his deadly gaze to the Parasite. "You didn't!"

"Oh yeah." Parasite gets too his feet. "When I heard you where in town I was hoping I would be abel to see you. Your Kryptonian powers are just what I need to get revenge on this guys boss. I teach him for betraying me."

"So he was a hit man?" Superman's rage blazes through his eyes like a burning fire. "But that didn't mean you had to kill him. with your powers wasn't simply making him become unconscious enough?"

"Enough to get away." Parasite runs at Superman. "But not enough to satisfy me!"

Superman blasts the Parasite with his heat rays and grabs him while he's down. He tosses him out through the roof and fallows him through the hole made by the impact.

---

Superman searches for Parasite on the rooftop but his mind is clouded with grief. He's mad at himself for letting someone die by Parasite's hands. The pain distracts him so much he doesn't notice when Parasite leaps out from behind and grabs hold of his face.

The surprise attack takes a lot of the Kryptonian's power and the impact is made worse by the heat beams which proceed afterwards.

"That guy down there had impressive strength and endurance for a human." Parasite flexes his new muscles and dodges Superman's punch with his stollen super speed. "Hard to believe he was one, but I took all of his power and he turned out to be a mere mortal like the rest of us. But you wouldn't know anything about that would you?"

Parasite smacks Superman in the back of the head with a super powered punch and knocks him straight into the rooftop. He sits down on his back and grabs his face, sucking the strength out of him with tremendous speed.

"No!" Superman tries not to panic. "If only I didn't let my grief get the better of me. How did Parasite get this strong?"

---

Johnny's body lays lifeless on the floor.

Suddenly his chest fills with air and thrusts forwards towards the sky as his eye lids bursts open and he gasps for breath.

"Hwahhh! Hoh, ha ha." He breathes heavily for a moment. After getting a grip on himself he sits up and pulls the hook out of his back. Next are the ones in his shoulders. After that he relaxes again and lays back on the floor looking up at the night sky through the hole in the roof. His mind wanders through everything that just happened to him as a soft grin appears on his blood stained face. His open chest lifts and falls as he laughs in a mixture or relief and disbelief. "Aw. Thats rich. Looks like you wont be able to avenge me after all Alex. Too bad for you."

---

On top of the building Superman feels the deep pressure of one of his own punches as Parasite delivers a straight punch to the face.

"You're not at the top of your game anymore." Parasite laughs. "Did me killing someone make you loose your edge that easily?"

"I still have enough power left to take you down Parasite." Superman flies up into the air and charges a massive blast of power but by this time it is so weak Parasite doesn't have to dodge. He walks out from the blast, smoke coming off of his unscathed body.

"Even that dead man back there did better than you tonight." Parasite flies up and grabs Superman by the throat. "I guess it's time you finally joined the dead yourself."

"Hey!" A rock smacks against Parasite's head. He looks back, disbelief filling his glowing eyes. Johnny calls up to him from the rooftop. His clearly there but seemingly not effecting him. "Don't talk about me like I'm dead! I aint getting written out that easily!"

"H-How are you alive?" Parasite calls down. "I killed you."

"Weird isn't it?" Johnny calls back. "Wish I knew myself. Something like this did happen once. A little while ago I fought this pyrokinexis guy…pyrokonosis…He used fire, and well, I he ended up self destructing. Like a Voltorb or something. Anyway I could have sword I was caught in the blast. Sometimes I sort of think I remember smelling my skin burning but until now I thought I just imagined it when I was knocked unconscious. But now I think I might have just came back from the dead or something."

Parasite drops Superman and rushes Johnny.

"Get out of the way!" Superman refuses to let Johnny die again. "He has my powers now too!"

Johnny lets Parasite get in real close before grinning down at him, his bloodlust restored. He steps out of the way seconds before Parasite can touch him and elbows him in the back.

"Now, my first thought was that you just forgot to finish me off, but then I saw this hole in my chest and realized it goes right into my heart." Johnny lets Parasite stand up. "So then I thought it might be that I regrow my body after I die. That would be pretty cool right. But that's not it. That guy I told you about said something like this before.

Parasite moves in again and tries to attack but Johnny dodges again and this time gives his a direct punch to the stomach, his hand covered in his jacket for protection. "Anyway, I've nearly been killed a few times already. I fought a werewolf who put me in the hospital, been exploded and got my but kicked through countless buildings, and somehow I walk keep walking away without a scratch. My friend called it something specific…It's that thing sayins do."

Johnny punches Parasite over and over, effortlessly staying a step ahead of him. "Well, it's like, I get stronger each time I almost die. Or I guess in my case I get stronger even when I die. Now what did he call it?"

Parasite reaches out for Johnny's face. "Oh, yeah."

Johnny grabs the Parasite by the wrist with his protected hand. "Reactive Adaption. Or something like that. Either way."

He holds the Parasite still with no effort whatsoever. "It means that no matter what you do to me I'll come back. And I'll be even stronger. Unlike you my power can only grow."

Johnny's eyes redden even deeper with his bloodlust. To the Parasite it is like looking into the eyes of a crazed demon. A god of bloodshed. "But I wonder, how much power do you think you can take?"

Johnny grains hold of the Prasite's face with his unprotected hand. The power pours from him in the form of crimson light. The Parasite screams in pure agony as the sheer force consumes him.

"Please stop! I can't take it!" Parasite begs. "Please! I'll do whatever you say!"

Johnny lets go of his face and the Parasite falls on the floor. "Get out of my city. The next time I see you here, or if I hear anything about some purple monster around here again, I'll show you what it feels like to have your heart ripped open. And unlike Superman over there, I wont give you enough time to absorb my power."

Johnny kicks the Parasite off of the rooftop and lets his limp body falls on the ground bellow.

"Are you really alright?" Superman asks Johnny, concerned for him.

"Oh, yeah." Johnny turns around and grins like a goofy idiot. "I'm totally hanging in th-"

Johnny faints but Superman catches him.

"Bringing the Parasite in will have to wait. You need a dcotor"

Preview Time!

Mary: "So, I was thinking. Why is this ark called Red X Japan?"

Charlotte: "I guess because Alex is an otaku, maybe."

Clark: "What is an otaku?"

Alex: "Our enemy could end up being from Japan. But it's more likely that HumanX just screwed up with the name."

Clark: "Um guys. What is an otaku?"

HumanX: "I did not! There's a reason for the name!"

Charlotte: "So, what is it?"

HumanX: "You'll have to find out when the time comes."

Alex: "Bored now. Preview time!"

Mary: "Next time on Red X Japan. Johnny is in the hospital? What the heck for? And who is this new guy trying to start something in Oscura? I don't know what's going on but I think Alex may know more than he's letting on. I wish he'd tell the rest of us what's going on once in a while. Wait. If this guy can beat Superman what chance do we have? Next, Red X Japan To Test His Metal."

Clark: "Is anyone going to answer me?"

Start the Conversation

Red X Japan Ch01 Man of Steel

Red X Japan

Ch01 Man of Steel

Readers beware. Red X Japan contains violence, sexual content and other crap that some readers may find offensive. Discretion is advised.

Red X, Johnny Rancid and other characters are property of their respective creators and DC comics and have only been modified by Human X to fit the story. This is a work of fiction and any resemblance these characters or situations have to anyone in your own life are purely coincidental…maybe.

Oscura City. It's a place full of monsters, criminals and disaster. But all these things are not uncommon in this world. Because of the small size and relative obscurity of this city it remains without a resident super hero. It's name means the city of darkness. It is a place where the justice of the world is obsolete. The jails are revolving doors where the worst of criminals can spend the night before their caring rich parents bale them out. It is an infection. A decrepit form of society where the weak succumb to the strong and the worth of man is its lowest. Only in a city like this can a mad man be take the place of a hero.

Since the fall of the Depraved in December things have been looking up for this city. Anthony Romulus and his group have long since scared off most of the Depraved members who where still loyal to Crispin's memory and now the city is left without a criminal mastermind. Of course, all that really does is leave a vacancy open. WIthout the Depraved leading Oscura's criminal underworld the low level criminal groups are fighting for their late masters position. Oscura is now a battlefield for a gang war. Luckily, none of these gangs are able to use Xenothium, the driving force that was behind the Depraved's actions and the source of Crispin's power. In comparison to the fear of super powered druggies randomly attacking people at their own discretion this controllable chaos is welcomed by the citizens of the city.

---

By the way, I haven't introduced myself. My name is Paul and I will be the narrator for Red X Japan. You may not remember me but I was in the last chapter of red X Oscura. If you do remember me thank you very much. In the last chapter I had almost escaped from this series of underground chasms I've been trapped in and returned to the surface world so that I could reunite with my long lost love and deliver some important items I have found. But do to some circumstances the exit was sealed and I've been wandering around down here ever since. I was able to survive by finding this storage house down here that was full of food and supplies. I'm just about to eat now but suddenly the room begins to shake and I dive out just before the roof collapses on me. I am happy to be alive until I realize that all that food is now buried underneath the rubble…Will someone please find me.

---

The snow in Oscura has already melted away, leaving a crisp and cool Spring feeling in the middle of January. The uncharacteristic weather puts the people at ease after the harsh Winter that had just past. The high schools have all let out by now and two young girls walk leisurely home, not wanting to let the weather go to waste.

"So, you like, want to go shopping today?" One of the girls asks the other. "I don't want to go home right away. The weathers too nice."

"Sorry." The one in front apologizes as she moves the brunette hair hanging over her face. "I have training after this."

"You're always doing that stuff." The girl behind grumbles and pulls her cellphone out of her pocket. "Your instructor must be like, really hot for you to keep doing that every day."

"He's just a freeloading jerk." The girl in front sighs.

As the girls walk down the street several men surround them on all sides. One of the men steps forward, a knife in his hand. "Hey there ladies."

The girl in the back moves in closer to the one in the front. She shakes as her hand reaches out and grabs onto her friend.

"Good girls know not to come to Dusk Street on their own." The man with the knife walks closer. He looks both the girls up and down as he circles in like a shark. "There are bad people out here."

"Maybe you should let us escort you young ladies home." One of the other men tells them as all of them start taking out weapons.

"Please don't hurt us." The girl behind her friend trembles but the friend takes the others hand off her arm.

"We wont hurt you." The man walks in closer so he's standing less than an arms length away. "We're just concerned for your wellbeing. That's all."

---

Several frightened waitresses whisper and watch a terrified coworker standing beside a flying barrage of food. Her whole body shakes as a boot slams onto the table.

"OY OY OY OY!" The man at the table yells at the waitress through bits of metal pairings. "You call dis horse p*ss coffee? And where the 'ell is my f**king steak? I ordered it like, five minutes ago."

"I-I-I-I'm sorry." The waitress tries to keep from making eye contact with him. "We'll need some more time to-"

The man slams his boot against the table again. "Wait? Is that whot you're asken me ta do? Do you 'ave any idea who I am? I'm Punk Rocket you blinkin' tart! Everyone 'ere knows what I could do ta this place. Now if I tell ya I want a bloody steak then what will you do?"

"I'll get you a steak." Her legs start to give out but she keeps standing despite her fear.

"Tha's right." He leans back and tosses a bowl of noodles over his shoulder. "Because I'm the strongest. Nottin' can beat me."

"H-Here it is." One of the other waitresses runs out with a steak ready for Punk Rocket.

"Let me take that." Another man's hand reaches out and takes the plate.

"I can kick any sod who dares to mess wit me an' don' you forget it." Rocket doesn't notice since he's so wrapped up in bragging about himself. "Now where's ma bloody steak?"

"Over here." The man behind him waves without looking back. "Tastes good."

"You little punk!" Rocket grabs the man behind him by the shoulder. A look of absolute terror completely takes over his face when he sees him. "Oh bloody hell."

---

Back in Dusk Street.

"You're think you can run away? We're the Depraved you know." One of the men surrounding the young girls sticks his face up close and grins. "You know, you're not half bad looking. Maybe I should keep this one for myself."

"Disgusting." The girl in front mutters and drops her school bag on the ground.

"What was that?" The man raises his hand to his ear pretending not to hear her.

"I said that your breath is disgusting. And when was the last time you showered you grotty little sh*t stain." The girl snaps at him her eyes blazing like blue fire. "And what the hell's with that hair stye? Do you think this is the nineteen eighties? People like you are why rich people look down on the lower class. You have no sense of style or anything in the looks department but you strut around like you're invincible. You may as well just get used to the fact that the only reason you're doing something as stupid as stalking a couple of high school girls, as cute as we are, is because no girl would ever look at you if she had the choice so you have to resort to what I have to assume is some sort of gang bang attempt. You even went as far as to use the name of a dead organization. Everyone knows the Depraved is done. Even if you aren't faking you're just one of the remnants of an organization that didn't amount to anything."

"You little b*tch!" He goes to stab her but she steps to the side and grabs his now outstretched arm. She brings her elbow down into the man's elbow, making him drop his knife before she knees him in the stomach. All of the man's followers watch in awe.

"You b*tches think you can take on the beautiful fighter Charlotte Sullivan and live?" Charlotte calls out to them. "I'll kick all your a*ses!"

"Kill her!" One of the men calls out and they all charge her at once.

"Twelves men in total. This should take about three seconds." Charlotte takes position and gets ready to attack. She lowers herself on her left leg, pushing the right out in front of her. Her right hand is outstretched forwards and her left remains by her chest. "Bangong Fang She!"

---

Punk Rocket is tossed out the door of the restaurant. He tries to crawl off but is picked up by his head.

"Come on Johnny-boy." He claps his hands together and pleads for his life. "I'm sorry I tossed the bowl on ya 'ead. It was a total accident."

"You keep busting up my favourite restaurants Rocket, and I'll make sure you have a real accident." Johnny sets him on the ground and turns to go back inside.

Rocket grabs a gun from his jacket and goes to shoot Johnny in the back of the head. johnny turns back around and crushes the gun underneath the force if his hand before Rocket can fire a single bullet.

"I'll be goin' now." Rocket drops the ruined gun and runs for his life.

"Freaking moron." Johnny scratches his head and grumbles.

"Um-excuse me." Johnny turns around and has a plate of food shoved into his chest. "This is for saving me-I mean us!"

"Uh, no problem." Johnny takes the food.

"Thank you so much." The waitress tells him and walks back inside, unable to look at his face.

"Sweet." Johnny starts inhaling the food off the plate. "Free grub."

---

Charlotte stands in the middle of a group of unconscious bodies. She breathes in and abandons her stance. "Hell yeah! That's what you get ya pansies!"

"Charlotte, that was amazing." Her friend cheers for her.

"I know." Charlotte crosses her arms. "I'm made of awesome."

"But I thought you said it would only take three second. That was almost twenty."

Charlotte drops her confident look and starts to feel a little down. "It would have taken him three seconds."

---

"So this is connected to the palatine tonsil." A gentle smile graces the eyes of six female med students as they listen to a dark haired man explain the contents of a text book to them as if it where a graceful work of literature written by a famous poet.

"So that's why we use this when dealing with that kind of illness?" One of the med students pushes in closer to the man who returns her attention with a warm gaze.

"That's exactly right." He places a finger gently against her throat and motions upwards. "That will cause relief in this area as the medicine works through these parts of the throat. It help to clear the area as well."

"I-I see." The med student trembles as she tries to stop herself from drooling.

"Um, Mr.Arkham." Another student on the other side pulls on his sleeve.

"It's just Alex." He turns back to her and stares into her eyes for a moment before returning to her textbook.

Her heart beats like a bull ramming against her chest. "Which part's the palatine tonsil again?"

Alex motions her to look into his eyes. "It's this part."

His lips rub against her and his tongue parts her mouth. The girl moans as his tongue shows her the palatine tonsil.

"Awww. No fare." One of the other students whines. "Why is it just her?"

"Lucky…." Another one slumps back in her chair.

The kiss breaks and the girl breaths heavily as her eyes slowly reopen.

"So, can you remember that part now?" Alex asks her.

"Yes." She wipes her drool from her lower lip and writes what she just learned down in her notebook.

"Can we study breast related illnesses next?" One of the girls asks.

"Sure we ca-" The door to the library bursts open as Charlotte storm in through the door.

"There you are." She grabs Alex by the collar and nearly lifts him off his chair. "You where supposed to train me today after I got home from school three hours ago!"

"Do you know this girl Alex?" One of the med students asks him with a look in her eyes like her heart had just been torn out of her chest.

"I've never seen her before in my life." Alex lies flat out, earning him a head smack against the table.

"Alex is my martial arts teacher." Charlotte tells them. "And he's late for a lesson so if it's alright with you I'll be dragging his worthless butt home."

As Alex is dragged out of the library by his collar he waves goodbye to the med students. "Same time next week everyone."

---

Alex dodges under a quick swing of a bamboo sword.

"Skipping out on training to flirt with college girls!?" Charlotte swings at Alex with a hurricanes force. He swerves in between the deadly strikes without batting an eye. "What kind of teacher are you!?"

"I wasn't flirting. I was seducing." Alex corrects her. "The distinction should be obvious. Did I mention your hair look really pretty? Good call on going back to your natural colour."

"Don't try to talk your way out of this!" Charlotte brings her sword down on Alex and he has to block the attack with his own sword in order to keep himself from getting a bad scar. "I don't care about your sorted pervert lifestyle! Im paying you for martial arts lessons so you're going to teach me martial arts or else! And by the way, why are we doing kendo!? I thought you where going to teacher me the Bangong Fang She!"

Alex chuckles at her. "I'm not teaching you that."

Charlotte's next attack hits its mark and bops Alex on the head, knocking him on his butt.

"That hurt." Alex rubs his head and pouts. "How am I gonna snag the hotties if I get a scar?"

"You'll live." Charlotte stabs her sword against the ground. "So, why wont you teach me the full Bangong Fang She. Wasn't that what you started teaching me before?"

"That was a different thing all together. Yao Duo Shuang Tou She Qiangdao (Bite of the Multi-Headed Snake Bandit) is only one technique which is a result of learning Bangong Fang She. It is the lowest form of Bangong Fang She and is only meant as a way of taking down multiple targets in a short amount of time. I'm impressed that you where able to master it to this degree in the time you have, but learning the entire Bangong Fang She is something you cannot learn from me."

"Then who should I learn it from?" Charlotte asks. "You're the only person who knows the freaking thing."

"I'm not the only one." Alex tells her. "I had to learn it from somewhere. But it's not like having that person teach you would be any different. You're just not capable of mastering any of the three great animals."

"Well, excuse me for not being a freakishly gifted mega genius." Charlotte pouts. "But I was able to make it this far and you said that a person would have to be a genius to master even the basics of one of the animals."

"The only reason you got this far is because of my awesome teaching skills and the amplifications you give yourself with that battle armour."

Charlotte looks down at the skin tight nano armour around her arms and legs. They look like black socks and gloves but are really Metalla laced nanoscopic machines like the ones used in my older Red X costume before Charlotte remade it with a downgrade to increase my speed and reaction time. They are supposed to act as an under-armour for her gauntlets when she acts as Kitten but since they look like regular black fabric they work as inconspicuous shields for everyday life.

"Those things are designed as muscle enhancers. That's the only reason you can reach the level of speed needed to achieve a state near that of Bangong Fang She. But that state is nothing compared to the original." Alex blocks one of Charlottes attacks and pushes her off balance, making her fall back on her butt. "So is the physical strain of using them."

Charlotte punches the padded ground with the side of her fist as she gets up, her temper getting the better of her for a moment. "Yeah. I've felt the numbness in my legs after using Yoh Duo Shuang Ta…The snake bandit attack."

"Yao Duo Shuang Tou She Qiangdao." Alex sets his sword against the wall and grabs his water bottle off the seat of a bench press. "Imagine using that attack at a much higher level. The world blurs around you so you can't see a thing. Your legs feel like they're going to break underneath the strain like your body weighs a ton every time your foot hits the floor, only to become weightless. You feel the wind hit your face like a metal beam and for that single moment your lungs fill with air like they're going to explode."

"That sucks." Charlotte sneaks around behind Alex and lifts her sword up into the air.

"It's like your body is falling apart." Charlotte swings the sword down but Alex turns out of the way and pulls the sword further, tugging Charlotte onto one leg. She hops forward, trying to stay up before she falls and smacks her nose off the wall. "And that's just the first half second."

"Half second?" Charlotte asks.

"The first step is to enter the Bangong Fang She. I nearly jumped off a mountain the first time. Then you try to learn to exit it on command and after that you try increasing your time. It's the same with Snake Bandit."

"But the full thing makes you move like the Flash."

"The Flash is faster. Bangong Fang She pushes me to the limit of human speed but its a martial art move, not a magic trick and you don't get the protective aura keeping him from feeling the negative side effects."

"So you do have limits." Charlotte sneers at Alex as he bends down and helps her back on her feet.

"I'm only human."

---

Later that night, a heavily armoured car drives across the newly renovated overpass just outside of Oscura city limits. The original overpass was damaged from the shockwaves caused by Crispin's final attack. The shockwaves caused minor damage in several parts of Oscura. The repair work made good time in coming to completion but was still unfinished.

A worker holds out his hand, signalling for the armoured car to stop. The worker walks up to the car.

"Working late?" The worker asks the men in the car.

"Late night delivery." The men tell him.

"Must be something expensive to be guarded like this."

"Just waste material from Lex Corp."

"Is it toxic?" The construction worker leans in.

"You're safe. It would take something as strong as Superman to break through this armoured car."

"Seems like a lot of security."

"You never know with Lex Corp."

"Yeah. About that." The worker grabs the side of the car door. "I've got some friends in Lex Corp and they never said anything about a shipment tonight."

The men in the car reach for their guns as the workers hand crushes the car door.

"As for my friends in the Metropolis police department. They say that there is supposed to be a prisoner transport done today."

The worker grabs the first mans hand and crushes it along with his gun. The second one fires but despite the bullets perching the workers skin it bounces off his skull.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Have you not figured it out yet?" The worker grabs his forehead and rips the skin from three quarters of his own face revealing glimmering metal.

"Metallo!" The second guard fires again and again.

"There are some brains in that meaty little head." Metallo reaches out and grabs the guard by the cheeks. "Why don't we have a look at them."

The first guard tries to wrestle Metallo's hands off of the second. Metallo swats the first man so hard that his jaw flies out of the window. With that distraction out of the way he returns to crushing the second man's head.

---

Metallo wipes the blood and brains from his hands onto the dead man's shirts and looks to the man who's jaw he had ripped off, lifting him up by the collar. He rips the door off the back of the armoured truck. Purple gas seeps from the open car as Metallo leers into the darkness. He steps into the car.

"I have a deal if you would like to hear it." Metallo tosses the man he had nearly killed into the centre of the truck. "And I've brought a present to show my good will."

A voice reaches out from the darkness. Its breath is hoarse and heavy. "Corben. Why are you here?"

"I'll fill you in after you agree to work with me. I went through a lot to find you and I hope that we can have a mutually beneficial relationship."

"I'm listening. Just bring him here." The voice agrees. "Hurry."

"Gladly."

---

Oscura remains quiet for one day after Metallo's attack on the armoured car. The incident was kept secret from the public. Life in Oscura moves on its newly casual pace.

Charlotte leans against a wall by the refreshment table of an art gallery opening. She grudgingly chokes down a glass of punch and taps her foot against the floor. Her stunning appearance in a light blue mini dress and professionally done hair style contrast with her glaring eyes and painted scowl.

"That stupid jerk." She stomps her heel against the wall just lightly enough not to be noticed. "Where is he?"

Her ears perk up as an all too familiar sound reaches in.

"This one is Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach by Salvador Dali. He's well known for creating bizarre works of art in the surrealist style." A gentle voice guides a small group of young women through the collection of masterpieces. "He's been quoted saying "Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure - that of being Salvador Dali"."

"You know a lot about art." One of the mesmerized moment smiles at the voices owner, caught like a fish in a net.

"I just feel drawn to surrealist artwork." The voices owner flashes a one million dollar smile with a shy glance. "Especially Dali's work. But the man himself is just as interesting as his works. He'd always say things which where almost as out there as his paintings."

"I've never really liked surrealist work." One of the women looks at the painting like she is starring at garbage. "There just a little too outragious for me."

"The one thing the world will never have enough of is the outrageous." He turns his attention to her without any sign of displeasure, but instead a warmth and nearly glowing understanding. "Sometimes such extreme minds are hard to understand but just because we don't see the way they do doesn't mean we can't appreciate the merit in their work."

"I guess not." The woman can't hold back from smiling at the man's welcoming face as all of her objections melt away like ice in the face of the sun.

Behind a nearby doorway freshly painted nails dig into the paint of the walls as Charlotte grits her teeth. "Alex, you chauvinistic pig."

"Wow. Check out the babe." A couple of guys see Charlotte from a short distance. "Called her."

"No way, man." One of the guys pushes himself out in front of the other. "I saw her first."

Charlotte's nails nearly rip the wall apart. "I'm gonna kill him!"

"Uh…" The guys start to back off. "Never mind bro. Too crazy for my taste."

"Uh, yeah." The two run off. "I like my limbs attached."

Charlotte walks over to Alex and looks him in the eyes.

"Hey." Alex gives her a fake smile. "What's wrong?"

"What's wrong?" Charlotte imitates him as she grabs onto his collar. "I'll tell you what's wrong."

---

A few painful minutes later…

"You got exactly what was coming to you." Charlotte pouts by a refreshment table.

"But did you really have to throw that table at me?" Alex rubs his sore cheek.

"You left me alone. I felt like an idiot looking around for you. You're lucky you got off with that."

"If you'd have left me alone I would have gotten off a lot better with those hotties I was talking too."

"You're sick!" Charlotte shoves her purse into Alex's stomach and starts to storm off.

"Where are you going?" Alex calls after her. "You know, it's rude to wander off and leave people alone."

"I'm getting a drink!" She snaps back forgetting that they are standing next to a refreshment table.

Alex sighs and hooks the purse over his shoulder. He looks around the museum until his eyes settle on a large lumbering man in a cheap blue suit carrying a black purse. The man wanders over to the snack bar, bumping into a few people along the way. His humongous hands carefully grab a paper plate and some crackers from the snack table.

"Interesting." Alex thinks to himself as he quietly observes the giant's sausage sized fingers gracefully scoop some chocolate fondue from the fountain in the centre of the table. He grins as the man then knocks over a small pile of paper cups. The giant tries to pick up the cups but only makes a bigger mess as he fumbles with them.

"Need some help there?" Alex grabs a few of the cups up off the ground and neatly piles them back in their proper place.

"Thanks a lot." The man readjusts his glasses and smiles kindly. It's like the sun is glowing behind his awkward expression. "Hard to catch these things once they start to get away on you."

"The mood doesn't help." Alex returns the smile with one of his own. "All these rich people really don't have anything better to do than look around some ordinary art gallery?"

"It can be a bit overwhelming. But it's better than a big news day around the Planet."

"The Planet?" Alex stops half way through picking up a cracker. "You mean the Daily Planet in Metropolis?"

"The one and only." The giant man holds out a friendly hand which makes Alex's hand look like a child's. "Clark Kent, reporter."

"Alex Arkham, prisoner. Right now I'm being held captive by a little ex-blonde dictator in heels."

"I was wondering about the prada." Clark points to the purse hanging off of Alex's arm. "I guess yours makes you hold her stuff too."

"Naw. I just like how the colour compliments my eyes." Alex grins and uses one of the cups to scoop out some chocolate from the fountain.

"Now that's genius." Clark laughs at the cup of chocolate. "I wish I thought of that."

"After spending a few lifetimes at these things you pick up some ideas. But I guess I don't have to tell the star reporter."

"I wouldn't call myself a star reporter. That's Lois." Clark rubs his neck awkwardly.

"Lois the ball and chain?" Alex asks through a mouthful of chocolate covered crackers but his smile switches to a smirk. "Wait, you mean Lois Lane? Lucky you."

"Well, yeah." Clark blushes.

"At least you're getting points for being here. I'm stuck with a short, bratty sound box who never shuts up." Alex sighs and leans against the table. "At least if I could write this off as a date I wouldn't totally be wasting my evening."

"Short, bratty sound box, huh?" Clark asks and points behind Alex. "She look anything like that?"

Alex slowly turns around, unwilling to see the hellish fate awaiting his turning head. Charlotte grinds her teeth together as she glares up at him. "Arkham…My ears don't seem to be working. What exactly where you saying just now?"

"I was saying that a short, bratty, flat chested, completely unattractive girl dragged me to this snore-fest and I would embraces sweet death if I WAS FORCED INTO A STRANGLE HOLD!" Half way through his sentence Charlotte forces him into a strangle hold and pins him on the ground.

"My ears are still not working! What did you say about that beautiful, kind and generous girl!?" Charlotte nearly snaps his arms.

"Clean the wax out woman!" Alex continues pushing her on. "I said you where a-Gyaaaah!"

"What the hell is going on?" Another brunette walks up and watches the carnage.

"Lois, this is Alex Arkham and, um…" Clark bends in toward Charlotte. "I'm sorry. I didn't get your name."

"Oh." Charlotte drops her violence and at an unnatural speed turns into a sweet young lady. "I'm Charlotte Sullivan. Please ignore what happened just a moment ago."

"Yes. Ignore the clear attempt at manslaughter. It happens every day." Alex gets up and rubs his aching arms.

"Wait a minute." Charlotte looks at the two more closely. "Are you Lois Lane?"

"Daily Planet's star reporter at your service." Lois wisps a pen and note pad out of her pocket and starts questioning Charlotte. "You said your name was Charlotte Sullivan. Of the Sullivan group? Your families company is Oscura's riches organization. What have you contributed to this museum?"

"Well, uh…" Charlotte freezes up but Alex steps in between her and Lois.

"Actually," Alex smiles. "The Sullivan group has been a big part of creating many wings of this museum and paid for several different galleries which contain works by artists such as-"

As Alex riddles off a list of Charlotte's families contributions Clark hands Charlotte a cup of chocolate and some crackers.

"So far you've been telling me a lot about the company contributions but not much about your personal role in the creation of this museum." Lois tries to stump Alex.

"That's because there isn't any." Alex lets the jab role off his shoulders. "Charlotte doesn't have very much of the Sullivan group's finances under her direct control. It's actually caught up in charitable branch organizations and several research groups involved in the development of renewable resources and medical developments. All of these things are out of her hands until she reaches a more appropriate age and graduates from high school. After that she can choose to take over the company or allow the share holders to continue running it."

"I see. So, until she can take control she's just along for the ride?" Lois asks.

"Pretty much." Alex smirks.

"I do more than you do." Charlotte mutters.

A few minutes of Alex dodging Lois' tough questions with sweet sounding half answers and an impenetrable armour of warm smiles and Clark decides to rip the two apart with the thought of a fruit punch break.

"Lois can really talk." Alex says with a slightly less pristine smile.

"So can Charlotte." Clark agrees.

"Did you let her talk about shoes or makeup?"

"Martial arts actually." Clark chuckles. "She said that you teach her."

"Just a bit of Taijiquan, Baguazhang and other Chinese stuff. I'm a bit of an asian fanatic."

---

Suddenly a loud explosion goes off between a few of the galleries near the centre of the museum. A bulky man in what looks like pimped out army gear climbs to the top of one of the sculptures so that the entire museum can see him. He holds up a megaphone and inhales deeply.

"Hey all you rich people! For too long you have kept the worlds wealth to yourself! For too long you have used your financial assets to fund these worthless pieces of unimaginative trash! And you even have the balls to call this crap art! Well I say no more! I say let this come to an end!" The man grabs a grenade from his utility belt and holds it up in the air. People start scrambling to the doors but they wont budge. "There's no escape! I've already locked all the exits! My name is Mad Stan! And I have stood by too long! There can only be one solution to the evil I see before me today."

Mad Stan grabs the pin of his grenade in between his teeth and pulls it out, tossing the grenade into a crowd of people. He laughs out as they run from it. "There is only one solution! Blow it all up!"

Charlotte looks at Alex who takes a step forward before stopping and reveals his true dark smile.

Charlotte moves in close so no one can hear. "What are you doing?"

Alex loosens up. "Getting some more punch."

"Hurry up and get rid of the grenade!" Charlotte grabs him by the sleeve, her eyes searching him for any sign of what he's thinking.

"Do grenades really take this long to go off?" Alex asks her as he shakes off her hand and pours himself a drink.

Charlotte eases off. "Well, no."

"And yes, this guy does sound like a complete moron but do you think his rage over this art thing seems like something he'd give his life for?" Alex swings an arm over her shoulder and uses one finger on the hand he's holding his drink with to point at Mad Stan. "See here and here. Also the way he's dressed. He's not a man ready to give his life away. Not for art. Maybe if his favourite football team looses or something."

"So, what's going to happen?" Charlotte presses him for more answers. "And what's the grenade?"

"It's not a grenade. It's a hand held bomb which has been made to look like a grenade. He doesn't want to die but it's nothing to him if someone else gets hurt. In other words he's just being a jerk." Alex pats Charlotte on the back and stands straight up again. "As for what happens that depends on whether my hunch is correct."

"What hunch?"

"Well, first of all our new friend ms.Lane is going to something incredibly stupid." Just as Alex says it Lois Lane was up to Mad Stan and starts yelling at him.

"Mad Stan. Lois Lane. Daily Planet. What would you say your motive is in doing all this?"

"And right on cue." Alex smirks and takes another drink.

"So, how is this good?" Charlotte panics. "She's gonna die."

"This punch is fantastic." Alex gets another cup.

Charlotte stomps on his foot to get his attention. "Focus!"

"Ever think of getting sharper heels?" Alex rubs his aching foot through the top of his shoe. "I think my toe might still be attached."

"Alex start talking."

"It all depends on wether my second theory happens to be true. The first being that Lois Lane is out of her bloody mind."

"What is your theory?" Charlotte looks back at Alex's grin getting wider with anticipation as the wind starts to pick up in a room with locked doors and windows.

"Where is Clark?"

---

Mad Stan has enough of Lois' questions and aims a gun at her. "Shut up! I've heard enough! It's time to blow it all up!"

"Just one more questio-" Lois tries to squeeze another line out of him but no luck.

"Just shut up spawn of the man!" He pulls the trigger. The gun fires but Lois doesn't fall. Instead she stands with a confident air as she looks up towards the sky.

"I would look behind you." Lois warns him.

A gust of wind blows through the locked museum as scarlet and azure blaze from the sky like fire raining down from heaven. The familiar symbol rests on his chest raining hope like sunlight on the hearts of the onlookers. His hand reaches out and drops the bullet meant for Lois' head. It bounces off of Mad Stan's stunned face.

"I hope I'm not interrupting." Superman floats down toward Mad Stan until he is eye to big red S level with him. "But maybe you should give it a rest before someone gets hurt."

"I threw a bomb." Mad Stan breaths deeply as he tries to work through.

"The grenade on the floor. I know." Superman nods. "But I'm afraid that wont do any good. I'll have tosses it into space by the time you can detonate it with that device in your pocket."

"Not that bomb you idiot!" Mad Stan laughs. "I have six more hidden around this museum!"

"I know. I found them."

"What? How did you-"

"Same way I know you have a detonator in your pocket. I could hear them." Superman plucks the little man up from on top of the statue and places him on the floor. "Now if you could just wait here for the police, they should be arriving any minute."

"No!" Mad Stan pulls a gun form his pocket and holds it up to Superman's chest.

"Now, I've been through this before." Superman tries to talk him out of this. "And it doesn't work. Regular bullets can't hurt me. They will only bounce off of my skin and hit you."

"If these where regular bullets-" Mad Stan pulls the trigger and a blast of green energy blows Superman against a wall. "-I might have been worried."

Superman gets up and brushes bits off wall off of his shoulders. "That wasn't Kryptonite but it did pack quite a punch. You know, you could be using that technology to do something good instead of terrorizing museums."

"Shut up!" Mad Stan fires again and this time Superman uses his arms to block it.

"Ultra high frequency sonic technology creating a wave of pure sonics in a solidified form." Not even Superman's suit is damaged. "Good but not good enough."

Before Mad Stan can fire another blast Superman melts the gun with his heat beams. Mad Stan drops the gun and tries to grab another weapon but realizes that all of his gadgets are gone. Superman holds them up in one hand so he can see.

"Looking for something?" Superman drops the weapons on the ground and grabs Mad Stan before he can run away. "I'm afraid no one received your message but you will have a long time to think about more peaceful ways to convey your opinions in prison."

In the crowd Charlotte moves in closer to Alex. "Looks like we didn't need your theory. Who knew Superman would be here."

"Superman was my theory." Alex watches the man of steel from in between the cheering people surrounding him. "And I think I figured out how I'm going to cure my recent boredom."

---

Deep underneath Oscura city our narrator lies curled up against a wall in a deep dark tunnel. Somebody please find me.

Preview Time!

Charlotte: "We're back! Yay!"

Johnny: "Who's back? I didn't even get any decent appearances in this chapter."

Mary: "It's the first chapter. We'll have more appearances later."

Johnny: "Why does it always have to be about you two?"

Alex: "Because I'm awesome and Charlotte's like a puppy that fallows me around."

Charlotte: "Because I'm cute?"

Alex: "No. Because you're a bit-"

Whack!

Alex: "Why do you hurt me?"

Charlotte: "Why do you think?"

Johnny: "Well, if I don't get to appear at least let me do the preview."

Romulus: "Next time on Red X Japan. The glasses come off and the man of steel flies again. But what is he doing in Oscura? The Depraved rise again under a new leader and a monster terrorizes the underworld. Uneasy alliances are formed and crushed, all in the next Red X Japan."

Johnny: "Line stealer."

Romulus: "At least you get to appear in the next chapter! I don't know if I'm ever going to show up again!"

El Dorado: "Oh cruel fate! Is this the end of my short yet beautiful career!?"

Alex: "At least we can take solace in the daft that it is not happening to me."

Romulus and El Dorado: "A lot of good that does us!"

Mary: "Can't you guys at least act your age? Seriously. See you next time everybody."

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Red X Oscura Ch 17 (In The Case Of Alex Arkham)

Ch17 In the Case of Alex Arkham

This fiction will be rated FR21 just incase. Beware sexual content and stuff like that. Readers discretion is advised.

Many of the characters seen are HumanX adaptations of characters from the various DC Comics animated series. HumanX holds no rights to characters such as Red X and Johnny Rancid (he only tweaked them for this story).

Let's get to the story already

The last hallway is decorated in extravagant paintings of hellish destruction and horrors. The scenes on the walls grant me some relief in not bringing the others this far. These depictions of hell alone could drive someone mad. Luckily I don't have to worry about madness. I've already seen hell so this is just a reminder. I reach the final door. It is made completely of gold and jewels. Crispin truly is a showman. He likes to make things flashy while pretending to be humble. But I can taunt him about it later. Right now I just want to open this door and kick his a**.

I place my hand against the golden door and push it open.

---

"I've been waiting for you." When I come through the door Crispin is seated in a large chair at the opposite end of an oversized well decorated table inside of a room which appears to have been stollen from a fancy rich guys house. The carpet is crimson with gold diamonds sewn through and the walls and table are the colour of dried blood. Crispin himself looks out of place, his hearty body squeezed into an expensive black suit with a red tie. His hobo-like head oozes out from the tight collar. Golden cufflinks too. Incredibly gigantic painting are hung on each wall exactly ninety three centimetres apart. There are three at the end where Crispin is sitting. The one in the middle is hung over a gothic fireplace and depicts a heroic knight slaying a dragon. There's a rabbit on the left one and Dionysus is displayed on the opposite side. On my side there are no picture, to make room for the door. Dionysus is the Greek god of whine and madness among other things where as the rabbit represents insanity. As for the the picture in the middle, a knight slaying a dragon is supposed to represent a force of good triumphing over a force of evil.

"When I first met you I had an idea of what the stage would look like when we fought." I tell him, walking to my seat at the opposite end. "I thought there'd be more red."

Crispin chuckles and holds out his hand. My chair moves on its own as if to invite me to sit in it. I oblige.

"I'm impressed as alway." Crispin drinks some red wine from a glass and wipes his lips with a handkerchief. "You where the only one to make it this far, but I do not think I can approve of leaving your poor friend Anthony behind the way you did. That was a rather cruel trick."

"It's good for people to learn the cruel truths of the world. Otherwise how can one move closer to adulthood?" I make small talk with him, playing his gentleman game for now. I have a few things I'd like to set in motion before this fight begins.

"Agreed." Crispin lifts his knife and fork then digs them into the steak on his plate. The steak pushes out under the knife before giving in and splitting apart, allowing its blood to drip down its scorched flesh. Human beings are disgusting when they eat. That's why people on food commercials don't actually eat there product. The constant movement of the mouth mutilates the face, creating expressions most people wouldn't dare to create in public. Their cheeks fill and expand like chipmunks and their lips glisten with the grease. The highest class of princess could have her grace ruined simply by the act of satisfying her hunger. "But you must admit that your methods are rather cruel. You brought all of your friends along with you, created a ridiculous plan that would lead them into believing that you would face me together and left them behind one by one. And here your friends trusted you so unconditionally. You should be ashamed."

"Why would I feel shame for their trust? You're not making any sense." I pick up the glass of wine he has set out for me and swirl the contents around while holding it in one hand. "It was there choice to listen to my plan. If they truly wanted to face you themselves they would have taken matters into their own hands and predicted my actions. After all I have a very untrustworthy nature."

"It's a shame that the two of us always have to be at odds in opinion. I see so much potential in you. If only you could understand that potential. Your thoughts and ideals, though interesting are a mystery to me."

Crispin himself has many obscurities about him. He has the look of a homeless man but speaks with all of the grace and refinement of a duke or royal monarch. His eyes are what give him away. His eyes are those of a true killer. In those piercing eyes lies the venom of a snake. No wonder he's able to control the Depraved in this area.

"You're also a mystery." I place my cup back onto the table without taking a sip and look into those poisoned snakes eyes. "I still don't know whether to kill you or try to reform you."

"I have been wondering the same thing myself." Crispin folds his handkerchief and sets it back onto the table. "You could be so much but a human being who wastes his potential is nothing more than dirt."

"And how would you have me use my potential?" I ask him, picking up the knife on the table and holding it up to the light of the chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

"I would make you my second in command of the Depraved and if you do well I would have you replace me and lead my church to its ultimate goal."

"The destruction of the world."

"Destruction?" Crispin asks me, a new light brought to his bearded face. "What we are trying to achieve is liberation. The human being is a creature which craves destruction down to its base elements. They are a masochistic creation meant for nothing but fulfilling their own whims. Only by showing this basic truth to the world can they be truly free."

I cut into my own steak and lift it off the plate, allowing the blood from the piece on my fork to drip into the puddle on my plate. "You say "they". Does that mean that you are not a part of the human race, or are you just not part of the equation?"

"I am a part of the eventual outcome." Crispin watches me as I wave my hand in front of my face. After that I open up my other hand and look at it. "I am one of the beings chosen by the almighty Shekari who will lead this world to its freedom. Through the spread of Xenotope and the activities of our Depraved members we are able to give power to the common man. From the first exposure a human becomes more like the creatures they where truly intended to be."

"The xenothium decomposition process." I confirm what he's saying as I lean back in my chair, balancing it. "You believe that the side effect of xenothium based drugs sending people insane is actually the person returning to their original form and becoming what your Shekari has meant them to be and that this insanity is actually a person's true self. You also believe that the power they gain is a way for them to achieve freedom from their mortal bonds."

"If you have to make it sound inelegant then you are correct. Do you disapprove?"

"Quite the opposite. It's an interesting theory. Do you have any change?" Crispin walks over to me and hands me a quarter. I thank him flipping it into the air a total of eleven times as I talk. "I think I've mentioned it before but there was this study once where a guy took a bunch of normal every day people with no signs of mental illness and made some of them prisoners and others guards. They'd rotate between who was a prisoner and who was a guard and other than that left them on their own. The result was that the people who where the guards at the time would become sadistically cruel and force the prisoners to do strange things like press there head against a bat, take off all there clothes and spin in a circle. It's not even that they where being cruel. The things they did where just weird. Eventually people started going insane. Looking at this example where a group of "ordinary" people simply given some control over others become like mentally ill criminals then I can easily support your theory that humanity is at there base nature a bunch of jerks."

"A bunch of jerks." Crispin smiles. "That's a very amusing way of putting it. But is it really their fault? If that is human nature then isn't it simply how we should live?"

"Maybe the only way human kind can advance is to defy our nature." I decide to do one last thing and whistle, smirking at the sound before brining my attention back to Crispin.

"And what is an advancement? For all of the "advancements" humanity has achieved we still have not succeeded in ending world hunger or curing all disease." Crispin really gets into the conversation now. His eyes widen and his arms reach out as if to simply cause a dramatic spectacle of himself. "When we look at all the "achievements" of our modern human society do we find a society free of pain and suffering? No. What has developed most in this time is technology. Don't you see anything wrong with a world where coming out with a new version of a game comes before feeding starving children. If we simply took all of the money that is wasted on technological advancement and used it for something more worth while don't you think that we could actually do something great!?"

"Why would we?" I ask him with a cold glance from ice filled eyes. "As you said before, human kind is worthless trash. These starving people should be used by the more fortunate and killed as we see fit. Isn't that the point of the Depraved?"

"Yes!" Crispin loses his calm gentlemanly demeanour. "I knew you'd understand! The world is filled with filth and human kind are the worst of it all!"

"Then why not use your influence to change human kind?" That's the question he didn't want me to ask.

"Because they don't deserve it! In the end human's care only for themselves! They sit in luxury while there own kind suffers and still have the nerve to complain about what they have!"

"So, in order to punish the world for creating suffering you're going to cause suffering?" I tilt my head and sigh. "Seems a little counterintuitive."

"You don't understand do you?" Crispin grips the sheet on the table.

"I understand completely and I agree." I toss the coin he gave me onto the table. "Human kind is generally negative. Just look at the state of the world or the people in it. The fact is that we're selfish and needy, absolutely worthless and by all means we should be wiped off the face of the earth. I happen to be a prime example of a useless potential. I could easily make this world better simply by going back to Gotham and curing some mental cases. Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, the Joker. I've had the ability to do it for years but I just didn't feel the need. There's no way around it. Humans suck. But I don't think that mass murder is going to help. Who knows, maybe in a couple hundred generations one of us may be able to discover some awareness but until then we just have to work with what we have. And that's a whole race of self-destructive, self-absorbed idiots. Besides, you're only looking at the majority."

"Majority?"

"Exactly." I think about all the people I've met until now. "The majority of humans are selfish. We say things like "I'm a humanitarian" or "I'm a good person" but in the end when it comes down to it most people wouldn't give up everything they have to someone else and leave themselves with nothing. For many people five cents a month is the limit of their generosity. But in between these hordes of selfish people there are ones like Natalya who work behind the scenes to keep the world and its people from destroying themselves. There are people like Romulus and his friends who choose to fight against those who make people suffer and defend them. Romulus himself is trying to do it without taking life. Charlotte's incapable of hiding how she really feels but when she's truly happy her smile becomes contagious. Johnny always defends people who are weaker than him and Mary pushes herself past her limitations, refusing to give in to the circumstances pushing her down. And they inspire others to do the same."

"But are these few good qualities able to outweigh the majority of human kind?"

"I dunno." I bob back and forth in my chair and then try some of the steak. "It's not like I know everything. All I know is humans are capable of good and bad. Just because we waste our potential doesn't mean we should all die. It's like that saying about bad apples. You shouldn't throw all of them out just because most of them are rotten because there are still good ones. Most people suck but we do have our moments where we suck just a little less. The point is to lessen the amount of bad apples by being a good one yourself."

"It's like talking to a four year old." Crispin cringes, tearing the tablecloth under the strain of his hands. "How can you put so much faith in humanity?"

"I don't put any faith in humanity." I tell him, grabbing a vile of red liquid from my belt. "I just think it's a shame to throw out the whole barrel just because of a few bad apples. especially since I fall under that bad category."

The emotion on Crispin's face turns to defeat before fading away all together. "I see. It seems I was wrong. I can't talk to you. Someone who wont listen to reason. You're simply choosing to look the other way. How can you do something like that? It's evil."

"Don't you think it's time to end this?" I ask him, holding the vile above my head. "We've done our little back and forth but in the end it will all come down to mortal combat. So why don't you drop this illusion."

"What are you talking about?" Crispin looks me dead in the eyes.

"Fine." I let the vile drop from my hand. "I'll do it for you."

---

I drop the vile of red liquid and it shatters on the ground. The liquid turns to smoke and fills the room. As it does the walls crumble and contort, eventually fading away, leaving only Crispin and me sitting across from each other in rusting metal chairs. The expensive looking room is now only a dark stone room, easily the size of sixteen soccer fields. There's almost nothing in here. It's completely empty.

"Now this is a final boss' dungeon." I look around the room. "All you need now is some magma and creepy statues."

"How did you break my illusion?" Crispin asks me, his suit now revealed to be ripped jeans and a soot covered hooded shirt. He really looks like a homeless man now. "I've never seen anyone do that."

"While we where talking I was preforming a series of tests." I explain with a grin. "I had a feeling ever since I touched that gold door. But what really got me started was the room. It was exactly the way I had imagined it. That's why the room was so detailed. Before I opened the door I imagined every picture on the wall and made certain they where symbols I would recognize. That's how I knew the illusion wasn't something you created but an image within my own mind. I know that you wouldn't create an illusion in which surrounding you where symbols of insanity or good triumphing over evil. You don't believe you are insane and you don't believe that you are a knight for good, but a demi god. After that I was certain that the world we where in was an image in my mind. Bu after that I wanted to test its limits so I swirled the wine in my glass, making note of how it moved and it was flawless."

"Thank you." Crispin tells me, regaining his gentleman role.

"The thing is you where able to mimic the flow of water but not the reflection of light. I held my knife up to the light and noticed that only the chandelier reflected, not the fireplace. Looking around now the only light in this room are on the ceiling, not behind you. You can't mimic light with your ability. You did do well in making the blood that fell on my plate appear real. It remained there for three whole minutes."

"You remembered where it was?" Crispin asks me. "But that would make the illusion-"

"Keep it in place, I know." I scratch my cheek. "But the place I imagined it after three minutes wasn't the place it had landed."

"You had it move on purpose."

"And in so doing I knew that I could manipulate the illusion myself. But how far, and how much of it was real. I knew that I was real when I waved my hand in front of my face and it didn't multiply. After that I wanted to know if I could change thing on my body so I opened it and imagined a number five on my palm. The five appeared so I made the discovery that your ability can't cause something that is generally impossible to happen, such as my arm splitting into two arms because I waved it. But it is possible that i would have a number five written on my hand. I found out my chair was real by leaning back and feeling the anxiety of leaning back in the chair, but I didn't figure that out completely until I imagined that the food in front of my was poisoned and tried some. When I didn't die or get any feeling from it I knew you couldn't control my sense of danger. The food didn't set me off because it wouldn't kill. It wouldn't kill me because it wasn't real. I also made it taste like butterscotch."

"And the coin toss?"

"You didn't notice?" I grin. "I tossed the coin a number of eleven times but caught it ten times. That means that I threw it in the air one extra time. That's because I decided for that last time to stop believing the coin existed and it faded from the illusion. Then I believed in it again and it reappeared in my hand so I could throw it on the table. I'm surprised an attentive person like you didn't catch that one. In the end I learnt that your illusions are based on my minds images, they can't make the impossible happen, they only work on sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch but not intuition, they can't imitate light and that they only work if I am open to the illusion as a possibility. In other words if I don't believe it wont happen."

Crispin claps his hands, applauding my deductions. "That is exactly right. You saw though my every weakness. But what about that vile?"

"That was a flammable chemical agent meant to make my escape from your illusion dramatic and end this stupid thing right here." I take out on of my X's from my belt and toss it in front of Crispin. "The chemicals that have been sinking into your body this whole time will feed any flames that come near it, burning whatever they're attached to until it is nothing but a pile of cinders."

I snap my fingers, activating the X and it explodes, lighting the chemicals cover Crispin on fire but leaving me untouched.

"You where covered in the chemical too!" Crispin's burning mouth calls out to me from the flames. "You're suit may protect your body but what about your face?!"

"My face?" I remember that I ditched my helmet while fighting that girl from before. "Oh, yeah. Before I came here I had this all planned out. You see, first I ditch the others because I promised not to kill people in front of Charlotte anymore and Romulus doesn't have what it takes to kill a person. Secondly I find my way to you and cover your body in the fire chemicals. It's a simple plan but in order to get it done I had to make some preparations. I covered my body in a flame resisting sister chemical to the one I covered you with. This one erodes the effects of the first chemical and leaves e fire proof. Took me a whole three hours to make the darn things."

"It's too bad all that work had to go to waste." Crispin stands up straight and smiles through the fire. He's completely unaffected by the fire. "I can see now that you will never join the Depraved. That's truly unfortunate. Now I will have to show you why I am considered a demon."

---

Crispin raises his hand into the air and the flames surrounding his body turn from brilliant crimson into murky black. His eyes fade into glowing white light and his body grows to twice its original size. He rips away his hooded shirt and fires a blast of flames towards me. I swing my cape out, wrapping it around myself in time to block the demonic flames but before I can make a move Crispin's fist slams into my stomach, nearly shattering my defensive armour. He's fast and strong. This form increases his size but doesn't decrease his speed. His reflexes are fast, but mine are faster. I'm able to weave out of the way when he tries to grab me. All he needs is to get me in his grip and it's all over. I was hoping I could take him by surprise and kill him off before the fight got serious but it seems I'll have to work for this.

He gets lucky and snatches my cape out of the air while I try to jump over his head. He pulls down on it and slams my body into the ground. He grabs my arms and lifts me back into the air. I feel my tendons start to stretch as he pulls my arms in opposite directions. His grip is incredible. I had Charlotte bring out this old model of my suit because my fight with Red Claw showed me some vital flaws in it so right now I don't have an invincible suit of armour protecting me. The only thing on me that is left of the old suit is the cape. If he keeps pulling my arms like this they're going to rip.

The X on my chest glows with red energy and fires a beam of light, making Crispin loose his grip and fly backwards. Crispin's not only stronger and faster but that fire around his body isn't just for show. He nearly melted straight through my forearm guards. If he damaged the equipment I would have even less of a chance.

"I'm sure by now you're regretting have come here alone." Crispin taunts me, getting up from that last attack. "As you can see that beam of yours had no effect. I can take anything you throw at me."

"Even liquid nitrogen?" I toss a few X's from my belt and they explode, freezing a portion of Crispin's arm. It only takes him a second to defrost it with his flames but that second is all I need ot enter Bangong Fang She and make some distance.

"Running away?" Crispin calls over to me from across the room. "Do you think I don't have any long range abilities?"

"I just don't want to be too close when this hits." I hold my hands in the air and charge my gauntlets with xenothium power. A ball of red energy appears between my hands. "Red X rip off move! WarGreymon's Terra Force!"

The energy balls grows until it is half the size of my body and I toss it at Crispin. He stands perfectly still and the blast misses him by a centimetre, hitting the ground behind him and engulfing hi half of the room in a blast of destruction.

"Yeah!" I laugh in victory. "Suck my digital co-"

A hand reaches out from the destruction and grips my throat. Crispin slams my body into a wall and with his free hand punches me in the gut.

"What the hell was that supposed to do?" He asks me, his palm pressed against my wind pipe. "I didn't even feel it."

"Try this one." I place my hand against his face and it glows as I release a blast of pure xenothium energy. It isn't enough to make his loosen his grip but it is enough to blind him while I use Tie Xiong Zhao to find the pressure points in his arms which control his grip. I dig two of my fingers into his arm and he lets me go. "All that extra muscle will do is make it easier Tie Xiong Zhao techniques to take control of you."

As Crispin gets his sight back I take a very familiar stance and unleash another powerful blast from the palms of my hands.

"Hadoken!" The blast is powerful enough to push him away from me but not knock him off his feet. That's fine because I rush in at him, jumping into the air and deliver seven mid air kicks to his face before dropping to the floor and landing on my left hand. I use that hand to spin on the ground and cut a kick across his legs, taking him off balance and knocking him onto the floor. I stand straight up and look down on Crispin. "I can help you, you know. I'm a psychiatrist. The Shekari creature you thought had chosen you for some great destiny was just a creature your mind made up inn order to deal with the things you've done. It's a scapegoat you can blame for all the horrible things you've done. Just look at you. If you really where a demo sent to destroy the world would I be able to humiliate you like this? You can't even kill one man and you think you're worthy of leading the earth to its end. You're only human Crispin. You're a level five xenothium infected human. That's all."

"No." Crispin's hand clenches against the ground. "That's not all. I'm a demon."

Crispin's body beings to produce black smoke. I step back when I realize what's about to happen. His body ignites the entire room in a blaze of flames. I cover myself with my cape just in time to avoid being burt to death. When the flames die out I look out from under the protection of my cape and see Crispin standing in the middle of the room. The flames around his body are intense and completely black. He's grown wings and a tail swell as two horns from the temples on the sides of his head. He's completely silent and standing still. It's like I'm looking at a soulless statue.

"Crispin." I call out to him. His glowing eyes twitch as if he just noticed my presence and he turns to face me. A shock wave collides with my body as his turns, tossing me like a toy doll and slamming my body into the far wall. My ribs nearly crack under the sheer force. That's just what happens when he turns? He raises a hand and I see a small flame appear in front of him. I cover myself in my cape before the flame bursts out and crushes me under its intense heat.

---

The smoke clears away. I look up at a blackened stone rooftop. The flame blast had melted through the stone wall and sent me into this next room, which appears to be some sort of extension of the last one. The cool air in this room is welcoming in comparison to the inferno I just survived. My cape is the only thing that protected me, but I was a little late in using it. I can't feel my left arm. I didn't expect his flame to me able to breach my armour without even touching it. The pure heat had melted through my platting before the flames could touch me. Amazing. I've felt this feeling before. My arm's too far gone to be of any help. He burnt it to the point where I can't get it to budge but why didn't he fallow me in here? I get it. That must be the draw back. He's been able to reach a new xenothium infection level. Level six. The b*****d's been able to reach a level I didn't think anyone on earth had the potential to reach yet. It seems that the issue is that he suffers from a temporary loss of his mind after releasing this state. The question is, does that remain the entirety of his time while in the form of a level six, does it fade after a certain time or does he retain some small form of control at all times? It's clear that his muscle size in no longer an accurate indication of his physical power. Could it be a form of tactile telekinesis amplifying his physical strength without any physical change, or maybe this is a new illusion ability and I'm imagining it all. Level six. With only a movement it was able to nearly crack my spine in half. It's flames must have been somewhere around the same heat as molten magma. Just by releasing that form he was able to render all of my resistance useless and even kill off my left arm. And this is just the beginning. The creature he is now isn't even comparable to the Crispin I've been facing. I've been playing this like a game, thinking that I knew everything about what the Depraved had to send against me. I knew that level six was an option but I didn't think someone like him could reach it. This is completely new territory.

My nearly collapsed lungs pulsate as I chuckle to myself. My mouth twists into a sadistic grin as my eyes spark to life. "This is going to be so much fun."

---

My damaged body walks out from the melted hole in the wall and I face Crispin once more. He's far more in control now. I guess the mind loss is only a temporary effect of level six. I see that I'm not the only thing feeling the effect of his last attack. The stone on all of the walls looks as if it was melted by that last attack. The floor under Crispin's feet appears to be melting underneath him. I can't let him touch me. If he does I'm going to be burnt alive by his hands. I have to be careful of his three new limbs too. He has only a little room to fly in this underground arena but I doubt that he will be able to make use of it.

"I'm sorry." I call out to him. He raises his head, looking in my direction. His shoulders tighten into place as he tries to suppress his new power. "That transformation caught me off guard. I underestimated you completely. Maybe it's all this time I've been playing around, but I seem to have gotten soft. But now I will fight you seriously."

I see Crispin's face smile through the black flames covering his body. "Then we can finally get started."

Crispin's hand moves to attack me but using Bangong Fang She I'm faster than him and I make it under his arm in time. I activate my X cutters and slice a cut across his stomach, rushing backwards with Bangong Fang She once more to avoid being caught. The wound on his body seals itself and disappears in exactly 2.896 seconds. His instant regeneration is incredibly powerful. I punctured several organs and clipped his pelvic girdle. The bones should take longer to regenerate if at all, but I can see from his movements that it's already back to normal. As for his reaction time, he's slow. That's only because Crispin doesn't have full control yet. I move in and attempt to even the score from earlier by lopping off his arm. He catches me and brings down his fist. I throw up my cape, wrapping it around his arm and using it to swing to safety. It's too hot to stay this close to him. It's time to reveal the second use of that flammable chemical from before. I press a button on my suit and the floor begins to glow dark red.

"What is that?" Crispin asks.

"You don't think one of my plans would be as simple as setting you on fire do you?" I ask him, holding out my good arm towards the floor beneath him. "My plans always involve layers in order to account for situations like this. That flammable chemical was actually just the first part in case I got lucky, but just in case you had a fire controlling ability I made sure that the chemical had a second usage. As you recall it filled up a large portion of the room before. That's because this chemical also sinks into the ground, fabrics and any other substance, deep into its cellular structure. All I need to do is trigger it with a little sonic vibrations set to the right frequency and I can trigger another rip off move."

I trigger the frequency to fire from my hand and the area around Crispin turns from dark red to blue.

"Once triggered by the frequency this substance which is much like liquid nitrogen but four hundred times colder is created. This gives it a similar effect to an attack by Rukia Kuchiki's Sode no Shirayuki." I watch as the blue light erupts into gallons of liquid nitrogen, which then forms a pillar of ice all the way to the roof. "Some no Mai, Tsukishiro."

Crispin breaks free of the ice pillar and crumbles it to pieces with his flames. "Do you think that man made ice can stand up to hellfire?"

"No." I run in at him wing Bangong Fang She. "But it will put it out for a bit."

I duck under his legs and kick him twice in the lower back, spinning as I reach up and elbow his shoulder before punching him in the spine. Crispin regains the use of his fire and blasts me back across the room.

I realize he's not bleeding out from the inside like I had hoped. "Why didn't Tie Xiong Zhao work? Is it because his durability is blocking the effect? If that's true then that means his powers are still growing and he's getting them under control."

I trigger all of the chemical in the room and use a grappling hook to swing to a safe place. Half of the room freezes over but I know it's just a matter of time until Crispin breaks free. This is ridiculous. Even if I had the invincible armour we'd only be at a stalemate. His skin is too thick to penetrate and if I recklessly get too close while using gentle strikes I could be killed by his flames. It's not worth risking it because his regeneration will undo the damage anyway. His xenothium infection is really covering him on all bases. I'll have to use that guys help. I take out a small receiver from my belt and hope that it wasn't damaged.

---

Some of you may not remember this far back but just outside of town in an abandoned observatory is the run down hideaway of one of my good friends. He's busy watching a mouse in a cage. He drips some of the chemical on the mouse and it stands still for a moment. The mouse screams out as its body mutates and explodes.

"Hm…" The doctor writes this reaction down. "I have failed at creating a cure for cancer but I seem to have succeeded in creating a new home defines system."

The doctor hears his phone ring and picks it up.

"Hello?" He answers the phone. "You want me to use that? Oh no, I'm not busy. Anything for a customer. By the way, I found out how to keep those teenagers from making out on my lawn."

---

"They're just trying to enjoy the stars…They're kids." I finish talking. "Look, just don't put it in your sprinkler system until I get back alright? So you'll have the machine ready? Cool."

Crispin breaks free from the ice and this time his fire isn't effected. I was right about him growing stronger. I hope my next plan works.

"Last chance to surrender." I tell Crispin as he walks out from the melted ice. "I'm about to become far more formidable."

"You have nothing Arkham." Crispin glares at me. "I broke your arm." He runs in and punches me so hard I fly into the wall. "I melted your ice." His elbow dig into my stomach and I feel it straight through the armour platting. "And now I'm going to kill you. So take comfort in the fact that after you're gone I'm going to come after Romulus and his friends. I'll torture the men for years before they die and I'll sell the girls as h**rs, but not before I have them passed around by my men for a few months. As a special bonus I think I'll tear off your arms and legs so you can still be alive to watch. Yes. I think that would do nicely."

I kick him in the face but I don't have enough strength to breach his skin. He grins, knowing that he's gotten to me.

"You're pretty fond of your friends, aren't you. Then I'll take that bratty teenaged one Agent captured and I'll kill her myself. That will be after I torture her day after day. What do you have to say about that?"

"3463 west, 64999 north, 3 miles underground." I whisper.

"What is that?" Crispin asks. "Have you gone crazy already?"

I look up at him confidently grinning as red light comes up from underneath us. "Look down a** f**k."

Bellow the both of us is a big red X. Crispin looks at me as I begin to laugh. The X explodes, knocking Crispin away from me. The smoke around me clears away and I wipe the blood from my forehead.

"I got caught in it too, but that was pretty sweet." I take a moment to lick the blood off my hand before looking down at Crispin who has fallen on his back. "And here you where talking about doing all that nasty crap to my friends. As if I'd let you lay a hand on any one of them. Do you have any idea who you're talking to?"

"What did you do?" Crispin asks me, getting to his feet.

"It was a satellite." I tell him, pointing towards the sky. "A satellite built my my friend Doctor Chang. It doesn't send down a lazier from the sky or anything like that. We're way to far underground for something like that to be effective. Instead it utilized several different technologies developed by Lex Corp and myself to ignite an explosion in a given area. For instance, area 3463.99999999999905 west, 64999.9999999999999999991 north and 3 miles underground."

As soon as I finish speaking another X appears under Crispin and explodes. He flies a few feet and I make another command.

"3463.99999999999001 west. Keep the depth and north." Another X in Crispin's location appears and explodes.

Crispin punches the ground and gets to his feet. "You cocky little b*****d!"

"Desperation." I enjoy the moment of victory. "I see that this little toy is getting under your skin. Does that mean that those last couple of explosions caused you pain?"

"Shut up!" Crispin charges at me and I name his position.

The X appears just as he runs into the area I named and it explodes into his stomach, forcing him to fall on his knees.

"You doing okay?" I ask Crispin as he coughs up blood. "That one was four times the strength of the others. The next will be forty. After that four hundred. You think you can handle it?"

Crispin reaches up and grabs me by the face, lifting me into the air.

"Fire again. Same location." I command but this time when the X explodes he absorbs it.

"I can control fire and lightning." Crispin tells me between breaths. "You can't kill me Alex Arkham. I'll just absorb your attacks."

"You hear that?" I tell the doc. "I wont be needing your help anymore."

"Cocky little-" Crispin starts squeezing my head with his hand. His other hand reaches for my right arm. "I'm going to take everything from you." His hand tightens on my arm crushing the bones. "Starting with this arm."

I scream out in pain as he laughs victoriously. My screams turn to laughter. Crispin squeezes my head harder, until it begins to bleed.

"Why are you laughing?" He asks me.

"You forgot one important detail." I tell him, my body almost completely limp. "You where able to crush both my arms. You're a giant evil demonic freak and you've been able to counter every one of my movements with one power or another. I can't believe you got me this close to death just to let it slip away because you couldn't see this one little detail."

He punches me in the gut with his free hand. "What is it? What am I forgetting?"

"It's the simplest of things really. You forgot that you can't beat me." My one eye looks at him through his blood stained fingers, starring deep into him, filling him with doubt. "Because I'm Alex Arkham."

"What the hell is that s**t?" He reaches back to punch me again but I flip my legs up, pressing the tips of my toes into his arm. His hand loosens its grip on my head and I drop to the ground, spinning on my head and sweeping his legs out from under his feet. He falls on his back and I hope up, landing on his chest before doing a backflip to and landing on the ground. "What did you do?"

I chuckle at ho pathetic he looks now.

"Stop laughing and tell me what you've done to me!" He demands so I decide to oblige.

"If you mean what I did with my feet, that was Tie Xiong Zhao. I used it earlier with my hands. It forces your hand muscles to relax and you lose your grip." I walk up to him smiling down with a cold sadistic glare in my eyes. "But Tie Xiong Zhao wasn't supposed to work on you, right? Your durable skin should protect you from a physical thing like pressure points. Look at your hand for a moment."

Crispin stares down in shock at his hand. "Blood? It's mine. But."

"Shouldn't your healing factor have taken care of that by now?" I ask him, my grin giving away my innocent voice. "Remember when I cut open your stomach? I wasn't just seeing if I could cut you. My X cutters where actually laced with a special enzyme which nullifies certain abilities, such as regeneration and stuff like that. You where still trying to take control so you probably don't remember to well. When you first transformed into a level six you knocked me through a wall. To you that must have seemed like it took only a moment but in actuality it took seven minutes. That's because it took me two minutes to get up, three minutes to climb out of the whole and two minutes to adapt my xenothium antidote to the DNA I got from your blood. You probably don't even remember me taking the blood, do you? It was when you passed me the quarter during your illusion at the beginning of our fight. I used a very small needle but it was able to take enough of your blood to determine your abilities."

"An Antidote?" Crispin asks.

"Yeah. The same kind I used on Romulus to help him gain control of his wolf side, except that this one is much more powerful. It wasn't Romulus' fault that he was attacking people so I gave him a very diluted version which caused a mutation and pushed his body to undergo transformation into a level five. On the other hand I didn't have much of your DNA to work with so you have a very high level of the antidote inside of you. To be honest I didn't really know what the effects would be. I thought it might kill you, or even have no effect at all. I've never had the chance to use it on a level six before, so thank you for being my guinea pig."

"So this whole time you where just…" Crispin is cut off as his body writhes in pain.

"Just waiting for the antidote to kick in." I look around the room. "Lucky it did, or my cute face would probably look a lot like what happens to a pumpkin when someone forgets to throw it out after halloween. But now you're beaten. Unfortunately I can't use either of my arms so I can't kill you."

"Liar." Crispin grinds his teeth as his eyes stare up at me, filled to overflowing with tears and hatred. "You can still kill me. You could do it the whole time, you b******d! You where just playing with me!"

"I was trying to save you a bit of pride, but yeah." I admit. "I could have killed you off easily after the antidote took effect. I just felt that the final battle would be boring if it ended that quickly."

"You b******d." Crispin grips the ground. "SHEKARI! My master! Help me!"

"You're power's are almost completely sealed. Isn't that enough to…" I stop for a moment and realize what I'm up against now.

"Master!" A dragon that looks like something from Tim Burton's nightmares rises from Crispin's body. It's a structure made of Crispin's black flames. It isn't real, but a part of his xenothium abilities. I didn't think he'd have enough of his powers left to pull something like this off. "Bring this place down on there heads! Kill them all!"

The dragon lifts its head to the roof and roars. It dives into the sky and the room begins to shake.

"Well…" I look up at it, not wanting to admit what I'm seeing. "That happened. What's going on Crispin?"

"Idiotic non-believer." Crispin looks up at me. "I may die but the mighty Shekari will destroy you all. It's destroying the structures keeping the roofs from falling. Once it's done you will all be crushed under three miles of earth and stone."

"Forgive me for not sticking around for that." I run off to meet with the others.

---

I look up at the huge golden door I came in through and pout. "Kinda wish I had arms right now."

I'm about to think up something brilliant when when the door swings open and Romulus bursts through with an unconscious woman draped over his shoulder.

"You've got some nerve you scrawny little freak!" Romulus grabs me by the cape and looks me right int the eyes. "I didn't expect you to do something so deplorable."

"The wolf man carrying an unconscious naked girl around is calling me a deplorable freak?" I grumble. "Whatever. Let's go."

"Go where?" Romulus asks.

"Look around." I point at the shaking landscape. "A demon dragon is trying to burry us underground so we need to find the others and get to safety. Oh yeah, and my arms are broken so I need you to open doors and stuff."

"Are you serious?" Romulus asks me.

"Come one. Let's go find the others." I push him out the door with my head. "Go on puppy. Go fetch."

"Maybe I should just leave him here." Romulus grumbles.

---

Romulus and I run through the collapsing tunnels as fast as possible. We met up with Johnny and Pandora a little further back and Johnny's been carrying Pandora on his back.

"We just need to pick up Charlotte and we can get the hell out of here." I tell the others.

"What about Baby Doll?" Johnny asks.

"Mary is already back home." I tell him.

"So, you did call someone to come pick her up." Romulus smiles back at me. "I knew you couldn't let her fight on her own."

"Shut up." I tell him. "Yvette and El Dorado should be fine since they're outside and El Dorado has his teleportation ability if necessary."

"Now all we need if Charlotte." Johnny finished for me.

We find Charlotte looking around a room like she's a lioness hunting a poor baby deer.

"Where'd that little geek run off to?" She asks herself. "I'm gonna rip his eyes out of his skull!"

"Come on crazy." I pick her up by coming up behind her and slipping my head between her leg, lifting her onto my shoulders.

"What the hell are you doing?!" She yells at me, grinding her knuckles into my temples. "This is sexual harassment!"

"No time to talk have to run." I ignore her and keep running.

"What's going on!?" She asks Johnny.

"Well." He tries to straighten it out in his own mind first. "In a nutshell a fire demon is trying to burry us and we have to escape before we all die."

Charlotte looks back at him for a few moments before digging her knuckles into my temples again. "Tell me what's really going on!"

"Just shut up or I'm going to leave you behind!"

Romulus stops move for a moment. "We have a problem."

"Don't tell me…" I grumble.

"Hotwire and El Dorado where fighting some Depraved people and somehow destroyed the exit."

There is a long pause.

"Well….f**k." Charlotte drops off my shoulders and hits a button on her gauntlets. "I'll use my echolocation device to find an exit…There seems to be a naturally formed series of tunnels leading to the outside. Fallow me."

---

"Hi everyone. My name is Paul. I've been trapped in a naturally formed subterranean tunnel for quite some time now. Could it have been three…no four years. I've suffered many trial but now I am finally free. I can see the sunlight at the end of the tunnel. It's been so long and it's so beautiful. Now I can return to the world above and finally reveal what I have found in these tunnels to the world. With this miracle antidote I created during my time here I can singlehandedly cure cancer. And with this new type of rock I can provide a cheep energy source which will never run dry and eliminate the need for fossil fuels completely. Finally I can show the world this, an ancient scroll detailing the true meaning of life. With these three items I can bring humanity to a new world. But most of all I will be reunited with my true love, whom I was tragically torn from when the accident which locked me away down here occurred. But now I can finally-"

Paul is cut off when my foot slams into the back of his head.

"Alright! The exit!" I call back to the others. "Hurry up! It's almost collapsed!"

The other catch up to me, not noticing that they're trampling a human underneath them. We jump out into the blinding light, falling into the river bellow us. The cave opening closes, trapping Paul inside.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

"PAUL!" I call up after him from the river.

"Who are you talking to?" Charlotte asks me.

"It's not important." I laugh it off and enjoy the fact that I'm not squished.

---

A few days later we've almost all finished recuperating. By almost I mean that I'm the only one who's still hurt. Since everything with the Depraved caused a lot of problems we're celebrating Christmas a bit later than usual. Romulus and the others decided to stay with us for a bit and celebrate taking down Crispin's army.

I'm sitting on the couch, both my arms in casts and a couple of bandages on my face and body. Yvette is sitting on my left side, snuggling up against my shoulder.

"I still don't believe you where the only one who got that badly hurt." Charlotte smirks at me from the hair across from me. "I guess the invincible Alex Arkham isn't as great as he thinks he is."

"I can still beat your butt into the ground, even with these casts." I tell her.

"Of course you can." She gives me a cocky look. "Just keep telling yourself anything you need to so you can keep sticking to your macho ego."

"Speaking of things that stick to Alex, are you going to cling like that all day?" Mary asks Yvette who gives her a nasty look.

"It's a lover's duty to help the healing process in any way she can." Yvette snuggles in closer. "That is what is called l'amour."

"Lovers?" Mary cocks an eyebrow and scoffs as she picks up a mug of hot chocolate from the table. "I bet a little girl like you hasn't even kissed a guy before."

"I have too." Yvette leans over too far and I feel a sharp pain run through my arm. "I've kissed plenty of guys."

"So, what you're saying is that you're easy?" Mary gives her a devilish smirk, having led Yvette into a trap.

"You wanna go l'enfant?" Yvette's hand sparks with electricity.

"I'm not a child, but I'll take you on any time." Mary pulls a gun out from her jacket pocket.

Before they can start something I push them both back with my casts.

"Let's try to get along on belated Christmas, please." I ask them but they both push me back against the couch.

"Stay out of it." They both tell me at the same time.

"I'm glad I'm not you." Johnny tells me and downs his sixth bottle of beer.

"I have to agree with you there." Romulus sighs.

"You can both just suck my-Beach Umbrellas!" I feel something awesome plant against the back of my head.

"Oops. Sorry about that." Panzer apologizes as she walks around the couch and places some cookies on the table.

"Good looks, watermelons the size of watermelons and cooking skills." I try to pick up a cookie but with my casts that's a bit of a problem. "Lucky you decided to leave the Depraved and join Romulus' group."

"Must be my animal magnetism, no?" El Dorado grins happily, only to be knocked out of his chair by an embarrassed Panzer's punch.

"That looked painful." Johnny says, walking to the fridge to get another beer. "You want some ice?"

"I am good." El Dorado laughs it off. "That's just how she shows love."

Panzer blushes pretty hard.

---

When everyone is distracted by other things I slip my coat on and head out to the roof. It's calm out here as opposed to inside, where Johnny and Pandora have started a drinking contest. The snow is falling gently on the city. Even though it's night by now the city is still alive, but peaceful. I start to wonder what Natalya is doing right now and I think about my master. My master doesn't like to celebrate things like Christmas, unless it's an excuse to drink. The thought of it makes me smile.

"You had to get some fresh air too?" I look back and see Charlotte standing by the door to the roof. She smiles and walks up to me, two cups of hot chocolate between her gloves.

"Come to check on me?" I ask her. "Maybe you're worried about me because you have a little crush-"

"I'll have you know, I came up here to be by myself." She huffs.

"Then why two hot chocolates?"

She blushes but tries to ignore it and sits down on the ledge of the roof. "Maybe they're both for me."

"You'll get fat that way." I keep teasing her.

"Just butt out." She drinks her hot chocolate.

I sit down beside her and pick up the other cup. "Thanks."

"No problem." She looks out at the city and smiles. "The city looks really nice from up here. I've never been up here before."

"Why not?"

"I'm a little afraid of high places." She giggles. "You'd think I'd've gotten over it by now but lately I've been able to handle them a bit more. It's like I stopped being afraid of them."

"When did that happen?" I ask her.

"Are you going to try to psycho analyse me?" She asks.

"If I did you'd be getting first class therapy for free."

"I'm not sure I want you inside my head." She sticks out her tongue and makes a face which looks like she's going to gag. "But I'll tell you anyway. I stopped being afraid of highest around the same time I met you."

Thinking back, the second time I met her she had gone to the roof of a building and told me to catch her when she stepped off the side.

"I guess that I thought if I do fall then…" She stares into her hot chocolate and smiles. "You'd grab my hand."

We sit silently for a moment before I give in and laugh.

"What's so funny!?" She snaps at me. "That's the last time I open up to you!"

"I have to admit." I settle down and pat her on the head. "You can be pretty cute sometimes."

"Whatever." She turns away from me, her face too red to look at me with. She waits a few minutes then speaks again. "It's cold."

"Then lets go inside." I get up and hold my hand out to her. I smile a genuinely warm smile as she reaches up and takes my hand.

Preview Time!

Johnny: "Aw. That was cute."

Alex and Charlotte: "Shut up!"

Red Claw: "I can't believe Red X is over. I didn't get enough scenes. I feel like a side character."

Mary: "It's not over."

Alex: "What do you mean?"

Mary: "Red X Oscura is completed but the next series is going to start soon."

Charlotte: "We get another series!?"

Mary: "Mmhmm. Red X Oscura was the first year Alex came to Oscura and started his training hours as a psychiatrist."

Alex: "Though I really didn't do much psychiatry stuff in these chapters I still learnt a lot behind the scenes."

Charlotte: "Well, isn't that convenient."

Mary: "The second series, Red X Japan will be about your second year on training hours. It takes place one year before you went to Gotham and fought Batman."

Alex: "Oh yeah. I forgot about that."

Mary: "Please look forward to the next series everyone."

Start the Conversation

Red X Oscura Ch 17 (In The Case Of Red X)

Ch17 In the Case of Red X

This fiction will be rated FR21 just incase. Beware sexual content and stuff like that. Readers discretion is advised.

Many of the characters seen are HumanX adaptations of characters from the various DC Comics animated series. HumanX holds no rights to characters such as Red X and Johnny Rancid (he only tweaked them for this story).

Let's get to the story already

I make my way down what I hope is the last corridor and enter into another room. My opponent walks out from the shadows and stands at the ready.

I grin widely under my mask. "Looks like I'm pretty lucky today."

---

Now, Crispin may be a crazy, un-showered dude who has a thing for the occult and thinks his every action is based on the will of a demon he saw in a Xenothium drug based delusion but I can say one thing about him. He has incredible taste in women. The final mid boss is a stacked babe with Rose coloured hair peach skin…and did I mention jello moulds the size of basket balls? Her amber eyes glare at me like flames of hatred as she steps forwards. When she moves I notice one critical observation. Those thing bounce like basketballs too. I move my hand to wipe the drool from my face but my hand stops short against my helmet.

I decide to introduce myself. "Uh, yo."

"This is what made it this far?" The woman asks, looking me up and down as she tries to figure out my powers. "Master Crispin shouldn't have left me for last. Now I'll never be able to prove my worth to the Depraved."

"So does that mean I can go ahead?" I ask her. "I ordered Black Cat volume 20 and I think it's supposed to be getting here soon so I'd like to kill your boss and get this over with quickly."

The woman's smug face changes into anger after hearing me talk and she gives up her relaxed stance for a more aggressive one. "You're going to try and kill Crispin? Impossible. He's a god."

"Really?" I ask leaning on the wall beside me and taking out a little box shaped device. "Because he looked more like a regular guy to me when we talked yesterday. Oh wait. I just remembered that they don't send mail on Christmas. I guess I have time to play around."

The woman cringes with anger since I'm taking her so lightly. Black and red energy sparks from her hand and wraps around her fingers like a web of deadly lightning.

"You know, booby-bot. There's still time to run away. I know that your life may not seem that important right now but when you look back a few years from now you'll be glad that you saved yourself the pain of fighting me if you just walk away." I set a few dials on the device and the screen glows red. "I only want Crispin. You're immaterial." I look up at her through the protective plates in my helmet and smile. "So you should count your blessings and run home."

"You little-" She reaches out her charged hand and fires the red and black lightning which comes at me like a blast of the real thing. I nonchalantly toss the device into the surge of energy and it explodes, filling the room with a red powder like mist. The woman tries to look through the mist but it's far too thick. "Where are you!" She calls out before feeling an odd sensation on her chest.

"Wow F's." My body appears behind her through the mist. "Don't these things hurt your back?"

I let go and step back in time to avoid having my head lopped off by a charged karate chop.

"Now, I wouldn't do that double latte." I shake my finger warning her.

"And why the hell not?" She snarls, guarding her breasts with her free hand. The other hand which is still sparking with red and black energy connects with the red mist and explodes on her.

"That's why." I sigh and begin to explain as she tries to get back on her feet. "This mist is an airborne substance I created. It is highly explosive. Not enough to kill you but it will sting like hell. It also causes itchiness, especially in those hard to reach places. I'm fine because I'm wearing this protective suit but I would try a bath with baking soda...but don't use Dove soap or it will turn your skin green. I wonder why it does that though."

I back away just in time to avoid her hand reaching up for my head. She stands on her feet and runs in at me.

"Do you think this will stop me!? All I need to do is make sure you're caught in the blast too!" She calls out charging her hand again. "I'm one of Crispin's assassins! Something like this is way too easy."

"I see I have to fight you with my full strength." I get ready to block her attack. "Oh, a penny." I drop down under her hand and let the blast knock her over. "Oh, wait there's no penny there. What would a penny be doing on the floor of an evil underground base? That's just silly."

"You…" The woman tries to get up again. "You're trying to make a fool out of me."

"Trying?"

The woman stands up and points a finger against my helmet. "I am one of Crispin's top agents. I was chosen by Shekari to kill for master Crispin. I will not be made a fool by you!"

She feels that uncomfortable sensation again. "Honk. Honk." Now that earns me a supercharges punch to the jaw, at least it would if I didn't use Serpent Strike to avoid it.

"B*****d!" The woman lashes out furiously at me as I dodge in and out of the shadows of my mist. Eventually she looses here temper and lets off another charge. This one knocks her back against a wall. "D**nit!"

"You're so tense." The wall is actually me (I'm so sneaky). I massage her shoulders, gently working out some of her pressure points. "A stressful work environment can be hazardous to your health. If there's someone at your work who's bothering you it's best to talk to that person and work out your differences so that you can reach a mutual understanding."

"The only thing that's bothering me-" She reaches up and grabs my helmet. "IS YOU!"

The blast from her charge is enough to make the wall behind us crumble. She breaths in heavily, waiting for the smoke to clear.

"I can't feel his head in my hand. I know I had him that time." She says to herself. "He has to be dead. That was definitely enough to kill him."

"There is no way he could have escaped that." I tell her, starring her in the face from the exact opposite side I was at before. My helmet hits the ground behind her and as her eyes adapt to the mist in front.

"You abandoned your helmet at the last second." She bites her lip.

"Yup." I smile brightly. "Anything that gets in the way should be tossed aside. But before we get back to fighting I have something important I must do."

My hand plants against her left boob again.

"You're going to die." She reaches out and grabs me by the ears.

"Come on. If you charge up now you'll ruin my beautiful face." I smile innocently.

She smiles back but hers is dead evil. "That's the point. hehehehehehe."

And…Boom.

"He got away again." The woman breaks out from the mist. and fires another blast, this time up at a small sprinkler system on the rooftop. It showers down and the water washes my mist out of the sky. My smokescreen is done and now she can see me clearly.

"Who puts a sprinkler system in an underground base like this? That seems kind of dangerous with all these big, hard to open doors. What if someone drowned?"

"It's because my power becomes amplified in water." The woman sparks up her entire left arm with a blaze of crimson electricity. "Once my death charges hit water their power increases by thousands."

"I can see they use cold water." I point down at her soaked white shirt.

"What the!?" She covers up with her arms. "Where's my bra!?"

"Oh, this thing?" I hold it up for her to see. "This is way too small for you. If you wear something like this your growth will be stunted. You should go in for a fitting and find a size that will better suit your unique chest. Looking at you without this I'd say you're a bit bigger than F. I hope you don't mind but I borrowed your belt too."

"My belt?" She looks down as her skirt slides down her legs and lands in the puddle of water underneath her.

"Aw." I pout. "That's unfortunate. Someone your age really shouldn't wear character panties."

The woman just stands there. From where I'm standing all I can hear is sobbing. "You are dead. You are so dead."

"Look," I hook the bra over my shoulder and pat her on the back kindly. "Would it help if I took my pants off? Then we'd be even."

"DEAD!" Her body erupts with crimson electrical energy and I have to block my face with my cape before it could sear my good looks away. I fall on my back in the water and she comes over and picks me up by the cape. "I'm going to kill you. You pervy little b*****d!"

"I understand." I tell her as I reach out my hand and place it on her arm. My eyes are covered by my soaked hair and water drips down the side of my cheeks like tears. "Life can be hard sometimes, especially for people like us."

"What the hell do we have in common?" She asks me.

"We're obscenely attractive. We never know if anyone really likes us for who we are. It can be hard to trust people when you're always unsure if they like you for who you are or for what you look like." I look up at her and smile warmly. "But then you find somebody like Crispin who sees you for what you can do, not how you look and that in itself feels special. I understand you."

"What are you talking about?" She asks me, unaffected by a word I've been saying.

"Nothing really." The warmth fades from my smile and is replaced by the grin of pure evil. "I was just distracting you while I stole the rest of your clothes."

She stands there holding me against the wall, completely naked. Her eye twitches for a moment before her head drops as she lets go of me.

"That's it." She whispers. "It's over."

I tilt my head and lean over to see her face.

She pushes me against the wall and grabs onto my ears again. "I'm going to kill you for the good of all humanity and then I'm going to kill myself for letting something and terrible as you live for so long!"

"That is a perfectly reasonable reaction, but first." I plant my hands on her high beam lights again and smile a cute little grin before her eyes widen with intense hatred and her arms glow deep vermillion.

---

Moments after the final charge the girl who was my opponent sits in the middle of the room where we fought, still completely naked and rocking back and forth.

"He just doesn't die." She bites her lip nervously. "Why?"

Let's answer her question shall we?

---

Welcome to Alex's Corner. This is where I'll explain how the assassin girl's power works.

You see at first glance her powers appear to be a type of electrical manipulation, but they are actually a type of energy stored in her body. I found that out the first time I squeezed her jugs. After that, while I was pretending to massage her shoulders I was actually using a form of Tie Xiong Zhao's power sealing ability to shut down her energy pathways. This weakened her power by not allowing the energy to flow from the centre of her being and appear out of her arms as easily, but that wasn't enough. To fully seal her power I needed a way to stop the flow of energy completely. Since I was right in guessing that the main source of her power was located in the chest I had to apply incredibly accurate pressure points in order to seal her abilities. that one I hit before she tried to fry my head head there was the last one I needed. After that her power where sealed along with her chances at microwaving my head and it was easy to put her down.

And that was Alex's Corner. Now please enjoy what's left of the fic.

---

The last hallway is decorated in extravagant paintings of hellish destruction and horrors. The scenes depicted on the walls grant me some relief in not bringing the other this far. These depictions of hell alone could drive someone mad. Luckily I don't have to worry about madness. I've already seen hell so this is just a reminder. I reach the final door. It is made completely of gold and jewels. Crispin truly is a showman. He likes to make things flashy while pretending to be humble. But I can taunt him about it later. Right now I just want to open this door and kick his a**.

I place my hand against the golden door and push it open.

Preview Time!

Charlotte: "You monster! How could you do all that to that poor girl!?"

Alex: "With a smile on my face."

Johnny: "Seriously dude. You surprise me sometimes."

Mary: "Shame on you."

Alex: "It's not that bad. All I did was strip her."

Charlotte: "You should be more considerate of other people. You don't understand how delicate people can be when it come to their bodies."

Alex: "She was an assassin."

Charlotte: "Assassin's can have modesty."

Mary: "Speaking of which, where'd that woman who saved me go?"

Alex: "Holy crap. Mary, what are you doing out of bed?"

Mary: "I feel fine." Collapse on the floor. "I'm totally fine."

Johnny: "Alex. Do the preview before she dies."

Alex: "Alright. It's the moment we've all been waiting for. The final showdown between Crispin and myself. The last battle between the forces of evil and not so evil. It's the last instalment of the chapter 17 arc. Will it be the end of the Crispin organization or will our handsome hero prevail over the forces of darkness? Don't miss it. Red X Oscura Chapter 17 In The Case Of Alex Arkham."

Assassin Girl: "Um..can I have my underwear back? I don't own anything else."

Alex: "…No."

Charlotte: "Give it back."

Alex: "Fine."

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Red X Oscura Ch 17 (InTheCaseOfJohnnyRancidAndAnthonyRomulus)

Ch17 In the Case of Johnny Rancid and Anthony Romulus

This fiction will be rated FR21 just incase. Beware sexual content and stuff like that. Readers discretion is advised.

Many of the characters seen are HumanX adaptations of characters from the various DC Comics animated series. HumanX holds no rights to characters such as Red X and Johnny Rancid (he only tweaked them for this story).

Let's get to the story already

The remainder of us make our way past the dungeon feeling part and enter a new room. This one is starting to look a little hot.

"Who turned on the heat?" Johnny asks. "It's freaking boiling."

"Keep on your guard." Romulus warns us.

"So we're doing this one at a time?" A tall, extremely muscular black man with dreadlocks and eyes tat look as if they'd been burnt to coal walks out from behind the scenes. "That's fine with me. Crispin wants to fight the little ninja dude himself anyway. But I suggest the rest of you stay." The heat in the room rises, causing the air to twist and sway. "You're going to need at least that much."

"Let's go Romulus." I look at him and get ready for a fight. "I'll stay behind this time."

Pandora looks at me and Romulus intently, swallowing nervously. "Anthony is incredibly strong, but this person beat him before. To have him ask Romulus to fight alongside him i order to take out this one guy when he was willing to leave everyone behind just to move on quicker…This person must be incredible."

The heat radiating off of the man in front of us burns like hellfire. I smile confidently as I unsheathe my X cutters.

---

I step forward with my X cutters unsheathed and grin maliciously, staring up at the behemoth of a man standing in front of me. "With Charlotte gone I don't have to hold myself back. This is going to get bloody."

"Stop." I feel myself being pulled back as Johnny's hand reaches out and he passes me. "Keep going on ahead."

"Fine." I sheath my cutters and signal Romulus. "Let's go."

"Wait. He's Gregory Leon. He's almost at the same level as Crispin himself. He's the second of Crispin's three assassins which the Agent was a part of."

"Oh, yeah? So he's like, a big shot?" I scratch my neck through the armour of my suit. "You think you got it?"

"Not much of a choice right now." Johnny shrugs.

"Of course there's a choice!" Pandora yells out, clenching his fists and shaking under the fear. "He's a level six, just like Crispin! Leave it to Romulus and Red X! They have a chance!"

"Yeah, well." Johnny scratches his head and tries to think things over. "I don't really get the whole power level thing. I know this guy's some kind of bada**. It's all over my head, you know?"

"Then why?" Pandora asks. "This is suicide. There's no reason to stay behind and die when we we have two perfectly matched fighters here! Red X may even be stronger!"

"Pandora." Romulus stops him. "It's his decision, but I should warn you Johnny. Even though he isn't as strong s the Agent Leon is almost his match. You'll be fighting someone strong enough to cause Alex harm."

"To be fare I wasn't able to fight my hardest. They had me drugged quite a bit and my fighting ability was cut nearly in half." I interrupt. "But yeah, these guys are strong. We could take him easily but Johnny may die."

"I know that much." Johnny looks directly at me. "But Mary stayed behind, Charlotte too. Even that little french girl. I can't really call myself a man if I let little girls like them fight while I stay behind and watch."

"So this is about pride?" I ask him. "A worthless human trait which pushes us to do ridiculous things for no reason aside from itself. It's a perfect weakness for you. I guess I can't really stop you. If I stay behind I'll just damage that foolish pride."

"We're leaving then?" Romulus asks.

"Guess so." I turn to leave, holding my arm up to Johnny. "Don't get yourself killed."

"Like I could die." Johnny slams his hand against mine. "That foolish pride you're looking down on, wont allow it."

Pandora cringes before giving in. "I'm staying behind too."

"Appreciate it." Johnny smirks. "But you sure you aint gonna get squashed? You can go ahead with them you know."

"You can't be the only one dying." Pandora straightens up and stands strong.

"Let's get out of here before they start making out." I tell Romulus. "You two play nice now."

---

Romulus and I continue on.

"I'm surprised you left Pandora behind since you where so against me leaving Charlotte and Mary." He can feel the unpleasant smirk through my armoured helmet. "Isn't abandoning you teammates like that supposed to be heartless and cruel?"

"I was arguing because you left women behind to fight hardened criminals and psychopaths on their own." Romulus returns my hidden gesture with a toothy grin. "But I guess a cruel person wouldn't call for reinforcements when he thinks no one is looking. From what I've heard about you I thought you didn't like to play the nice guy."

"Doesn't mean I don't know how." We reach the end of the tunnel.

Waiting for us is a wooden door six stories tall with rusted steel outlining the rims. It exudes a horrible aura and is surrounded with the heads of grotesque gargoyles.

"Waiting for us behind this door." Romulus looks up and swallows. "There must be something big."

"This is where your info drops off, right?"

"Yeah. From here on we're fighting blind." He gives me a look and another grin. "Is that why you dropped the girls off early on? Because we don't know what's behind here?"

"That's not why I dumped the girls back there." I move up to the door. "That's why we're the only ones here."

"You knew Johnny would stay behind if we left the girls first and you let Mary fight despite not being able to win." He crosses his arms thinking he has me figured out. "You called for help to keep her from dying, and maybe did the same for Charlotte. You knew I'd have El Dorado and Hotwire stay at the front because I wanted to keep her from fighting alone. You also knew that Pandora would volunteer to stay with Johnny if things came to that. You planned it all out so that you and I would fight Crispin on our own."

"Keheh." I chuckle under my breath and place a hand on the door, pushing on it and feeling the incredible weight fall back at the pressure of my touch. "You're wrong."

"Yeah right. I have you pegged." Romulus pats himself on the back. "You're a bleeding heart nice guy. A regular hero like the rest of us. Admit it."

"You're giving me too much credit." I tell him as we move into the next room. "I'm not a very nice guy. I'm actually very selfish."

---

"WE'RE GOING TO DIE!" Pandora yells over the flames rushing over his cubic force shield like flowing lava.

Johnny looks through the flames and signals to Pandora. "Drop the field!"

Johnny runs out from Pandora's protection and through the flames. He reaches back and goes in to nail one to Leon's cheek but the giant of a man moves with speed beyond someone of his size and ducks out of the way, placing his hand against Johnny's back and firing a blaze of condensed flame, tossing him across the room with the force behind it. Johnny peels himself off the wall and rubs his nose.

"Good thing these fancy clothes Charlotte gave me work just like Alex's old armour. Impenetrable to heat, cold and sharp objects." He dusts some chard wall off of his shoulder. "In this I'm practically invincible."

"Then perhaps you should have asked for you entire body to be covered." Leon builds his heat once more. "With your head exposed like that you're an easy target. At least it would cover your hideous hair."

"Looks whose talking!" Johnny snarls. "Dreadlocks? Go start a reggae band you hippie b*****d!"

"That doesn't even make sense! I think your hair's crawled into your brain!"

"Let's settle this with our fists!" Johnny pumps his hand into the air.

"Yeah!" Leon does the same. "Looser has to shave his head for a year!"

"No! Two years!" They jump at each other and start to fight again.

"They're both…" Pandora stands and watches, his arms drooping down to the sides. "…just idiots."

---

Romulus sniffs the air as we search through the next room. "You nervous about something?" I ask him.

"Don't act like you're not suspicious." He looks around. "Every time we come to a room like this we meet someone powerful."

"Why can't you just admit that you're afraid of the dark?"

"I'm not." He snarls at me. "Take this seriously. There's something in here."

"Then lets draw it out." I reach my hand into the sky and let off a blinding red light from my palm.

"The hell are you doing!?" Romulus asks.

"We're gonna fight it sooner or later."

"We could have just-" He grabs my arm but I interrupt him by placing my finger against his lips.

"We're here to take down Crispin's Depraved. That wont happen simply by killing Crispin. We need to humiliate and destroy him. His followers are looking for a miracle drug that will give their lives meaning. They want to be like his most powerful warriors. If we crush those warriors then the followers will loose confidence. By my estimation seventy percent will leave and return to society as regular human beings, twenty percent will continue on and try to continue the Crispin faction and the remaining ten percent will be absorbed into the emanating factions of the Depraved operating in other areas. All we need to do is take down the twenty percent in order to make sure the seventy stay inactive. From there the police can handle things."

"And how exactly do you suggest we deal with the remaining twenty?" He looks into my eyes through the reinforced eye pieces of my helmet.

"We kill them."

"Never. I wont do that again." His hand grips harder.

"Then what do you plan to do?" I ask him. "This is not something you can avoid. We're not facing noble super villains with a code of honour who have a master plan or kind people who just had one bad day. We're fighting a bunch of soiled self absorbed prick children who have gotten their hands on some very dangerous stuff. "

"Yeah, children. That's what they are. They don't know any better."

"How about that spider thing from before?"

"He's different." Romulus' grip starts to loosen. "He's a monster. He isn't even human anymore."

"You fit both of those descriptions, don't you mutt?" I ask him.

"But I don't kill people. I don't make the conscious choice to hurt people."

"These children you are trying to protect. They do. You want to blame Crispin because he's an easy solution. You want to blame the Depraved because they are an organization and you don't feel guilty for killing one of those like you would for killing a human. And you want to blame Xenothium, an innocent inanimate object completely unaware of all this because it isn't alive. The fact is you'll blame anyone but the ones responsible."

"What is to blame then?" He holds my masked face in closer, his fangs at the ready despite his bleeding human heart.

"Sentient beings." I tell him clearly. "Human beings in particular are a danger to themselves. Lions eat their young and cats torture their prey, but human beings in particular feel malice and hatred as a base emotional response. We also plan to cause harm to others without meaning. It may be possible…no. It is almost certain that human beings are the central cause of all bad things in the universe, or at least the ones who carry out these things. In fact it may be more appropriate to say that all bad things in this world are caused by imperfect beings with free will."

"What does that have to do with peoples lives?" Romulus asks.

"The Depraved itself is not at fault for the actions of its followers. The Depraved is an organization and has no free will of its own. It is the leaders and the followers who cause these things to happen. Nothing will change if all we do is take away the organization they use as a scapegoat. We need to make them see that their actions will bring down heavy consequences. So stop trying to spoil the people of the world and start to tackle the real problem."

A deep growl echoes through the chamber walls as Romulus' irises shrink and his body tenses. "Looks like well have to continue our debate later." We stand back to back, guarding ourselves from all angles. "But I'm not forgetting what you said Alex. I respect you as a fighter and a leader but you are no hero."

"I never said I was." I listen into the darkness, waiting for the enemy to make a sound. "Actually I think I'm more of an anti hero."

"You think you're so cool." Romulus chuckles as his body urges itself towards mutation. "It kind of ticks me off."

---

Johnny tosses his crowbar and it misses Leon who responds by tossing a ball of fire his way. Johnny dodges to the side, narrowly avoiding it. "That would have gone straight through my stomach." Johnny tries to keep up but the heat is getting to him. Sweat pours down his neck but his eyes burn with determination. He grips the stone wall and pushes himself to stay standing.

"Judging by your conversation before…" Leon boasts. "Your friends didn't seem too confident in your abilities. I'd say you're outclassed. The two of you combined don't have any chance of taking me on. Even if that coward in the corner could dry off his pants long enough to make a move on me. All he's been doing is hide in that force field."

Pandora shivers under the box force field he's been using to protect himself from Leon. His arm shake under more than just the pressure of keeping his box up.

Leon walks towards Pandora, holding out his arm and placing it against the surface of the box. "When I was young I only had the power to make sparks. I weak, pathetic and couldn't even fight back when I was attacked. I had no power. I had no future. Then I met Crispin and my life became something new. I didn't need anyone. I trusted in my own power and never fallowed anyone I didn't want to. I was never weak again. I gained power from Xenotope and never had to rely on anyone again. I became something other than that pathetic weak little puke. You remind me a lot of myself back then, but you can't even see it. You have something far more powerful than my sparks where but you can't even see how this power can grow." His fingers dig into the box. "And because of that you will always be weak, relying on other and never growing." The force field dissipates under the pressure. "Those you fall back on will leave you to dye. And you will be left alone." Leon hand reaches back and ignites with furious blazing flames.

Leon's fist comes down like a burning star on Pandora but stops short against Johnny's chest. At the last moment Johnny had leapt in front of the blaze. The flames swirl around his body, piercing his unprotected chest and face. He falls to his knees but immediately stands back up.

"Th-That's impossible." Leon steps back. "No one's ever been able to stand after that attack. That attack alone was what made me one of Crispin's three assassins. It surround the enemy in my flames and burns there skin to a crisp."

"You okay Pan?" Johnny asks.

"What…What the hell are you talking about!? Why did you do that?! You would have died! You should have died!" Pandora screams out but Johnny grabs him and pulls his body off the ground.

"Now you listen to me you little f**k turd! I aint dyin'! For one thing this snake haired b*****d's not even as strong as Alex made him out to be!" Johnny screams into his face.

"Snake hair?" Leon grabs one of his dreads. "They really that bad?"

"And another thing!" Johnny pulls him in to around two inches from his face. "Where the bloody corn filled crap do you get off saying I'm going to die! I just saved your life! There's protocol for stuff like that! You're supposed to be like "Thank you Johnny. Because our friendship is strong you where able to stand against his mighty blaze" then I'm all like "Do not worry my friend. We will join forces to defeat our common foe", and stuff."

"You've been watching too many samurai movies." Pandora says, not knowing how to deal with this.

Johnny gives up, turning back around to Leon and getting a grip on his crowbar again. "Whatever. I don't want to put too much effort into explaining myself. Just count this as a favour between two combat partners. Right now I just want to beat this flamer into the ground."

"So it has enough brain cells to use word play?" Leon scoffs. "But so far I haven't seen a single one of your hits actually hit, let alone damage me. You couldn't even get me on one knee."

"We'll see." Johnny dives in head first, swinging his crowbar with full force. Leon dodges back with ease and lets out a blast of flame across Johnny's stomach, knocking him on his back.

Johnny tries to hold back a howl as Leon's foot crushes his stomach but he can't keep it down and it escapes in a cloud of blood. Before he can even try to move Leon stomps his head back into the ground with his foot and holds it there.

"Johnny!" Pandora looses it and fires a force field box at high speed. It is crushed against Leon's face.

"I guess you want to die first." Leon points a finger towards Pandora "I wont keep you waiting then."

Pandora shivers under Leon's killer gaze.

"RUN!" Johnny screams from under the crushing weight of Leon's foot. "Get out of here!"

Pandora stands paralyzed, locked in Leon's eyes unable to move. Leon's hand ignites and Pandora is swallowed up by a sea of flames. He grips his own arms and screams as the flames eat through his skin and he falls to the ground.

"PANDORA!" Johnny calls out to his fallen comrade.

Leon allows his arm to fall back to his side and sighs. "Now if only all of the weaklings in this world would give themselves up to death so willingly."

---

Romulus and I listen into the darkness and finally zero in on a noise.

"You hear that?" I ask him.

"Yeah." He nods. "It sound like a woman crying."

We walk through the darkness until we meet some chick sitting on the ground in a corner of the room, her legs presses up against her chest as she cries into her knees. She's completely naked and covered in dirt. It looks like she's been here for years. He long unkept red hair dangles in knots down her bruise covered body.

"Are you okay miss?" Romulus asks. "What am I saying. How can you be okay down here? My name is Anthony and this is Alex. We're here to help you."

"Actually we're here to kill Crispin, but we can do both." I correct him.

"Have a heart will you?" Romulus tells me.

"For our enemies?" I ask him. "Or haven't you smelt it on her yet. I don't even have the heightened senses you do and even I can smell it. That girl smells like blood. And it's not her own."

"Don't you even have any compassion for a frightened woman?" Romulus asks only seconds before his back opens up and blood spills from down like a waterfall.

The woman pulls her hand out from his back and looks down at the blood terrified.

"No." She whispers to herself. "Not again."

She slowly places the blood covered fingers in her mouth and licks them dry.

"It's so good." She cries as she goes for the blood running down her wrist. "I can't stop myself."

She reaches for Romulus' throat but he ducks out of the way and pushes a palm against her stomach, knocking her back without causing her any harm.

"We have to kill her." I reach for my X's but Romulus stops me.

"Can't you hear her?" He asks me. "She's in pain! I know what this is like. She can't control herself. It's the same thing they used on me."

"Why do you think they put her here." I tell him, tossing my X's anyway. "They're using her to appeal to your sympathy."

"And maybe you're just paranoid." He tries to reason with me. "I know how these things work. She can't stop herself when her mind is ruled by instinct."

"And the fact she's a woman has nothing to do with it."

"That's irrelevant!"

"Do you think I don't hate this too?" I ask him. "If there was a way to save her don't you think I 'd take it?"

"What do you mean?" He asks.

"Think about it. Why would Crispin take the risk of placing someone under level six as his last guard? Level six is where you have either lost yourself completely or you gain full control over your abilities. Unless you think that is this girl's full form then we're dealing with someone who know exactly what she's doing."

"How do we tell which one she is?"

"Does it matter?" I ask, tossing a few more X's into the darkness to keep our enemy at bay. "If she's lost her mind then we should kill her before she can be used to hurt anymore people and if she's in control then we have to kill her anyway."

"She doesn't seem in control. Are you sure?" Romulus second guesses me.

"Fine. I have a plan." I tell him. "We'll put her down in one move."

---

Johnny lies half broken and beaten under Leon's foot. He looks at Pandora's smoke covered body. Pandora lets out a weak cough, allowing Johnny to know that he's alive.

"He's still breathing, huh?" Leon asks, taking his foot off of Johnny's throat and walking over to Pandora. He reaches his hand up and prepares to finish him off. "You people are like insects."

Johnny's massive arms reach around Leon's stomach and lock him in place.

"What are you doing?" Leon asks. "You're only going to die quicker."

"I thought you wanted us to rush into death." Johnny lifts the towering man off of his feet. "But I aint rushing in without expecting a fight!" Leon comes up over Johnny's head and falls backwards. His head crashes against the ground in a suplex.

"You think this is a game?" Leon gets to his feet and feels the back of his head. "I'll burn you alive."

"Shut up!" Johnny grins. "I'm sick of talking! Let's fight!" He looks back at Pandora. "Rest easy Pan. I'm about to cut loose on this flaming pile of s**t."

"Pile of…" Leon cringes. "You're going to want to brace yourself." He reaches out a hand and fires a stream of flames. "Because this is going to leave a mark!"

Johnny takes the flame streams as Leon sends them one after another. His coat sleeves absorb most of the damage but the he can feel the heat brushing against his face.

"If this keeps up I'm dead." Johnny realizes and runs into the flames.

Leon pours the flames on even hotter but Johnny ignores the heat and runs straight through. He makes it to the end and delivers a straight punch to Leon's face.

"Your flames may burn like hell but fire isn't solid. If I ignore the pain and push through I'll reach you. Your power doesn't give you any defence." Johnny tells him.

Leon recovers from Johnny's punch and reaches back and pummels his face with his fists. The sound of the super charged punches radiates through the massive room. Johnny tires to block the next punch.

"Wait!" Johnny realizes too late as the fist reaches hi open palm. "This one's different!"

The tip of Leon's knuckles explode. The explosion travels down Johnny's arm ripping his skin all the way to down his forearm.

"Rrryyyaaaughhhhh!" Johnny stumbles back and grips his limp, hanging arm. The muscles inside of it are ripped and what remains of his skin dangles loosely. The whole thing is covered in blood.

"This is my true power." Leon's fist collides with Johnny's stomach this time. The force of the explosion pushes him flat against the wall where Leon pins him with an elbow to the neck. "My power is actually the ability to ignite the air. If I use it at a low degree I can create streams of fire. But if I raise its power."

Leon's fist hits Johnny's stomach once more. The explosion pounds Johnny's body into the wall with so much strength it begins to crumble.

"I can cause an explosion. You see my power is more suited for close combat like this rather than controlling streams of fire. By focusing all of my power into the tip of my fist and condensing the molecules in the air through a punch I can cause these explosions and do incredible damage."

"Should I buy you a medal?" Johnny asks through the pool of blood starting to form in his throat.

"No." Leon smirks as he reaches back for another strike. "I'll just keep your head as a trophy."

---

Romulus stands at the ready as I toss some flash bombs into the air. The light and sound both paralyses our enemy and reveal her position. Romulus rushes in and holds her to the ground.

"Now Alex!" He calls out but I don't respond. "That b*****d. I should have guessed."

As Romulus wrestles to keep the girl on the ground I slip through the exit gate and close it behind me.

"I told you I'm more of an anti hero." I say as the door locks down behind me. "Betrayal is a give in. But I think you might find this battle to be a well needed experience. People who fight for justice can't understand. The world is not a loving place. Those who believe it is are overindulged infants who have yet to come to terms with how the world really works. I hoe this will show you just a little of what you are getting into by following this path. Good luck Anthony Romulus."

---

This time the wall behind Johnny breaks down completely and he falls through the hole in the wall.

"Then again." Leon dusts off his hands. "That would be an ugly trophy. I'll let you keep your head."

Leon gets ready to leave but stops cold when he hears the sound of the rubble moving as Johnny inches his way back to his feet.

"Thanks for that." Johnny stands on his feet, blood streaming down his stomach and falling on the ground. "But I can't just let you walk away from this. You see, I told Red X I'd take you on. And I already said I can't back down while the girls are back there fighting. It would be embarrassing if I was the only one to die."

Leon turns back and fires a blast of flame from his hand but Johnny is already moving. Johnny ducked under the flame and runs along the blind spot it created, reaching his arm up and clenching his giant fist around Leon's neck, lifting him off the ground.

"You should be dead." Leon snarls.

"I already told you I'm too stupid to die!" Johnny tosses him against a wall and comes in fast, sending punch after punch towards Leon. Leon swerves out of the way each time.

Leon lets off a blaze of intense heat from his entire body, sending Johnny flying backwards but he refuses to loose his footing. Johnny rushes in and Leon sends out another blast of flames but Johnny runs through them.

"I forgot about his fire proof coat." Leon cringes as Johnny tackles his shoulder right into his stomach and lifts him off the ground. Johnny continues charging, slamming the much larger man through one wall and letting go of him just in time to toss him into the next.

"This coat's the only reason I'm not dead." Johnny breaths heavily as he thinks over his options, under the increasing heat. "I'll definitely have to buy Alex and Charlotte a thank you gift."

Johnny runs in head first, fists at the ready. Leon brings his own fists up and pushes an explosion attack into Johnny's face. The blood splatters against the floor and nearby walls. Johnny grips his bleeding face and takes another hit, this time to the stomach, reopening his older wounds.

"DIE!" Leon charges in, pounding Johnny with explosive punch after punch. Johnny falls on his back but Leon isn't done. He hammers Johnny with explosive punches. The ground splinters underneath the gravity of each bone crushing punch until it finally gives way and the both of them fall through to the room underneath. Leon lifts Johnny up and punches him in the face a few times before dropping his limp body on the ground. "You're nothing!" He screams at Johnny's unmoving body. "You're nothing but weak worthless trash! I am strong! I killed you!"

Johnny coughs. Leon kicks him in the chest furiously.

"You can't be alive! I am the strongest! You cannot be alive!" Johnny lies still for a few moments as Leon breathes hard but smiles. "You're finally dead."

"Heh." Leon's irises shrink in fear at the sound of Johnny laughing. He takes two steps back in disbelief as Johnny slowly gets to his feet. "Hehehe."

"It's…" Leon looks as if he's facing the devil. "It's impossible."

"I guess it is." Johnny wipes the blood from his cheek and licks his dry lips. "But it's happening."

Leon looks down at Johnny's stomach and remembers searing it a while before now. "Then why is there nothing there now!? No bruises or burns!? Nothing!"

Leon looks up at Johnny and asks "What the hell. How are you alive?"

"How many times do I have to keep saying it?" Johnny grabs his right arm and flexes it. "I'm not like Alex, Charlotte or Mary. I don't use my brain to fight. I rush in head on because I'm not smart enough to know when to quite. I keep fighting even when my organs collapse and my eyes are so covered in blood I can't see, because none of that matters as long as I come out the winner. But the main reason no one can ever kill me is simple." His blood covered teeth are revealed in a gargantuan grin. "I'm just too stupid to die!"

Johnny moves in fast, refusing to give Leon time to think of his next move. Not that he could if he had time. Leon screams out in terror as the man who looks more like a corpse reaches back and hits him with the force of a truck. Leon panics and fires off a blast of heated pressure from his body, blowing away everything around him.

---

Romulus feels his inside begin to split as his enemies toes dig deep inside of him. He jumps back, fearing the loss of his consciousness and grabs him stomach, refusing to let his organs spill out.

"Alex was right." Romulus thinks to himself as he feels his organs reforming their bonds. "She cut they exact placing needed to cause me to faint as soon as possible. She bypassed my organs and cut the tissue keeping them in place so that I would faint and she could do some real damage. She's in control. She's just a good actress."

Romulus doesn't have much time but blocks when the girls spinning kick nearly connects with him face. She jumps back into the darkness and crawls along the sides of the walls out of sight.

"She has similar powers to mine but if my nose is correct her abilities are feline." Romulus' powerful eyes peer through the darkness and pinpoint her position. "I have to end this fast."

The girl comes in at him, too fast to block and cuts a line across his stomach with her toes and one through his neck with her fingers. Romulus' grabs her arm and tosses her against a wall, pouncing on her and keeping her pinned.

"She's incredibly strong for her size." He thinks as she starts to lift him off his feet.

She knocks him away and kicks him onto the ground. The girl hooks Romulus' arms with her legs and rips into his chest with her claws. Romulus' cries out as his rib cage is ripped from his body. The girl licks the blood off her hand and purrs.

"That was easy." She chuckles and gets to her feet. "Bleeding hearts tend to taste the best, but they don't put up much of a fight."

"He was right." Romulus' exposed lungs pulse as he laughs. "You are in control."

"You're still alive?" The cat girl asks Romulus. "Why don't you hero types know how to die?"

Romulus gets up to his feet, using a close bye wall as support. His organs slide back into place and his bones start to reform.

"You're a sixth infernal." The cat girl smiles.

"What's an infernal?" Romulus asks.

The cat girl sighs and walks up to him. "And infernal is just a word we use to describe how far someone is in the Xenothium process. The highest form being six and the lowest being one."

"Funny how you guys had the exact same idea Red X did. Names are a little different but that's the same method he used to describe it to us. I'm going to assume you're a six as well."

"I'm one of Crispin's three assassins. We used to be four before your Red X killed off our Agent, but that's all in the past now. And I never cared for the Agent anyway."

"I'm glad to see that the Depraved is as close as I remember." Romulus stands straight, his stomach regrown completely. "But I'm afraid that unless you choose to return to humanity and forsake the Depraved you will be killed here today."

"Kill me?" She asks. "Those are though words. But you can't back them up. You may be a level six but I'm a trained assassin. I know how to kill."

"You don't know how to kill me." Romulus warns her.

"Should I have brought my silver, or perhaps some holy water?" The cat girl mocks him. "You're just a human man like the rest. You will die."

She moves in fast but Romulus catches her hand before she can carve her claws into him.

"You're wrong." He tells her, his voice heavy and course. "I'm not a man." His now golden eyes peer up at her from mutating skin. "I'm a monster."

---

"This isn't possible!" Leon grabs his hair and screams, practically pulling his hair out at the root. "I'm stronger! WHY!? I have the power to kill him so why!?"

"That power doesn't belong to you." Johnny comes back in, bursting through the brick wall behind Leon and catching him by surprise and hooking his arms around him in a bear hug. "You didn't work for it so it isn't really yours. I learnt a long time ago that power you didn't work for is worthless."

"NOOOOOO!" Leon lets off more blasts of heat from his body.

"You borrowed power from Xenothium and the Depraved. Now you're just seeing the difference between that power and mine." Johnny continues squeezing Leon despite the heat eating at his skin. "I may not be at the same level as you in power but at least my power is my own. You don't own any of it. It owns you."

"Let me go! Let me go!" Leon lets out one final blaze and Johnny falls back behind some fallen rubble. Leon's body doesn't stop letting off heat. It burns brighter and brighter until his body becomes covered in flame. "What's going on!?"

"Clean your ears out." Johnny lights a cigarette. "I told you that's not your power. It's Xenothium's power and it looks like it's done with you."

"Help me." Leon reaches out to Johnny.

"I can't do that." Johnny tells him as he hold out a fist. "You already lost to the Xenothium. I'm not smart enough to know what to do. But I can stay with you in your last moments as a warrior who shared a good fight with you. After all I don't see any way of getting out of here and when you blow up I'm probably gonna get incinerated too. I'm sure Alex knew about your time limit and that a fight would run it down to zero. He must've saw it in your eyes."

"I don't want to die alone." Leon cries. "This isn't what I wanted."

"You wont be alone." Johnny tells him.

"Yes I will." Leon fires a blast of flames against one of the walls, melting it away. "Go!" He tells Johnny as He tosses him through the hole. "If you run you'll be able to make it!"

"Thank you." Johnny tells him and runs down the hallway behind the wall.

"I just wanted to be strong." Leon sits down in the middle of the rooms as his body begins to melt away. "Everyone thought you would die. But in the end you turned out to be stronger than me." Leon remembers what Johnny said about me being able to tell that he would die by the end of the battle. "So he left him behind to fight an opponent who could have killed him because he knew that he would last long enough for me to run to my limit and die. Hehehe." Leon places a hand against his face and cries. "Crispin, I hope you're ready for these people. They're something else."

In that moment Leon's body is overtaken by his Xenothium infection and explodes in a burst of brilliant heat and light.

---

Romulus' body twists as his skin crawls over newly formed muscles. His body grows to twice its size and his shoulders expand. His nails reform as sharpened claws and his face contorts into a wolf's snout. His body becomes covered in fur as his clothing shreds and falls to the ground. A long tails extends from the base of his back and he reaches his head into the air, letting loose a terrifying howl.

"This is my true form." Romulus' voice is harsh and deep. His animal form is far larger than before and far more powerful. He towers over the cat girl who looks up at him unimpressed with what she is faced with. "Are you prepared to die from something like this?"

"I wouldn't boast." The cat girl tears her own skin as her body pulsates. Fur grows over his and her body size increases as well. Her small body overflows with muscles and her nails turn to claws. Her face mutates into a monstrous cat-like creature and she stands in her full form. She is only one foot under Romulus' hight. and her cats face appears to grin with malicious intent.

Romulus moves to attack but the second his muscles twitch his arms is cut into pieces by the cats claws. Blood spews from the open wounds like a shower and covers the room. The cat bites into Romulus' shoulder and tosses him into the ground, clawing at his throat. Romulus pushes her off of him and punches her stomach into the ground so hard the cracks make their way to the walls. The cat hisses and tabs her claw through his left eye. Romulus howls in agony but does not fall back. He sinks his teeth into the cats neck but before they can breach skin the cat stabs into his stomach with her claws.

Romulus is disgusted with himself. These vicious acts come so naturally to him in this form. Perhaps that's why he fights so hard to be civilized while he is human. To him this kind of a fight is nothing like when a human fights a human. To him this is more like two wild animals fighting to the death. He would be right to see it that way. The blood spewing from the two combatants is like rain. Romulus has fought many enemies since regaining his control over his werewolf state, but he's never fought anyone this skilled and above that this ferocious.

"The only other time I've felt like this" Romulus sinks his teeth deeper into the cat and shakes her in his mouth, slamming her body into nearby pillars. "was when I fought Alex in the stadium. Thinking back he was more like an animal than I was. To be honest there have been many times I've looks back on the things I've done and wondered if it was all just pointless. Maybe I'm kidding myself when I believe that I can make the world a better place. Alex seems to have given up on the idea of human decency. I don't know what happened to him to make him think the way he does, but I can't help seeing the wisdom in his word."

The cat grabs Romulus' head and tears it off his body.

"Human's can be ferocious. We can be powerful and weak at the same time. We have incredible strength but can't seem to control it." The head falls to the ground. "But he can. Alex Arkham can control it." The headless body reaches out and grabs Romulus' head from the ground. "I saw him do it." The head seals itself back onto the neck and the body remains motionless for a moment.

"What the hell?" The cat asks in terror.

"After shredding my body to pieces Alex Arkham found it in himself to give me a cure to my lycanthrope. That boy who is hiding something dark deep inside himself. Something darker and more terrible than even the monster inside of me, found in himself the goodness to give me my life back."

The cat runs in and stabs Romulus over and over again. He grabs her arms and looks down at her with a kind smile on his wolf face.

"I don't know what is inside of you Alex that makes you say things like humanity is the problem and pushes you to the idea that humans should die, but I know that you yourself are what disproves what you say." Romulus brings the cat in closer and holds her to his chest. "You don't know it. Maybe what's inside of you is preventing you from seeing it but it's obvious. Both in you and the people around you. You saved me and I'm sure you saved Charlotte and Johnny and Mary and who the hell knows how many others. If it weren't for you who knows where we would be today. That's why they're so willing to fallow you. I could only see that after coming down here with you and seeing how loyally they fallow you. They trust you. Don't you see? You are what humanity really is. Not me, or the Depraved, or the darkness. I owe everything to your light, so I'm not going to give up, even if it's someone like this or even Crispin himself. All humans are good. We have the potential to be something great. I'm going to prove that to you some day."

"Let's stop fighting." Romulus tells the cat.

She looks up at him and snarls. "What?"

"There's no reason." He tells her. "The Depraved is dead. Alex is going after Crispin and once he's done this whole branch will fall. After that I'm going to find the other heads and bring them down. The others have already fought their battles. I can feel it. We're winning. It's all over. Why don't you come with me. Red X can cure your Xenothium poisoning and make you stronger. You can live a good li-"

The cat's claws rip his stomach from his body and she cuts him to the ground.

"What makes you think this is over?" She asks him. "Even if Crispin dies Shekari will live on! The next follower will rise up and your people will be hunted like lambs."

"We'll see." Romulus tries to reason with her but she attacks. This time he catches her and pins her arms against the wall. She twists her legs around his head and spins him off balance. As he falls he brings his foot up and knocks her to the ground as he flips back to his feet.

The cat lies unconscious and reverts to her human form.

"Well, I didn't kill her." Romulus smiles and reverts back to his human form as well.

---

I make my way down what I hope is the last corridor and enter into another room. My opponent walks out from the shadows and stands at the ready.

I grin widely under my mask. "Looks like I'm pretty lucky today."

Preview Time!

Alex: "I come off looking like a jerk in the end."

Charlotte: "That's what you get for leaving your friends behind."

Johnny: "So, like…What happened with that cat girl after you knocked her out?"

Anthony: "I've just been carrying her around. She's pretty light in her human form."

Alex: "You look like a kidnapper."

Hotwire: "Why are you guys just standing around? Don't you know we only have two more chapters eft in the Red X Oscura series?"

Alex: "True. But it's Christmas. Can't we take a break?"

Charlotte: "It was Christmas two days ago. Get to work."

Alex: "Fine. Next time on Red X Oscura I face off against an unexpected final opponent before I can see Crispin. Can I defeat this final enemy or will all our battles be for nothing? Does anyone really expect the main character to lose on the second last boss? Find out next time on Red X Oscura Ch 17 In The Case Of Red X."

Charlotte/Alex/Johnny: "Merry Christmas everyone."

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Red X Oscura Ch 17 (In The Case Of Baby Doll And Kitten)

Ch17 In the Case of Baby Doll and Kitten

This fiction will be rated FR21 just incase. Beware sexual content and stuff like that. Readers discretion is advised.

Many of the characters seen are HumanX adaptations of characters from the various DC Comics animated series. HumanX holds no rights to characters such as Red X and Johnny Rancid (he only tweaked them for this story).

Let's get to the story already

Our group makes its way into through the final hallway and enters a dimly lit room which resembles the Rose Avenue Cathedral. Except this place has no windows and is covered in spider webs and moss.

We wait silently until both Romulus and I nod to signal each other. We jump back, pushing our friends out of the way as massive strands of sticky webs come down from the sky.

"Aw crap." Romulus realizes who we're up against instantly. "I really wanted to avoid him."

A strand of web falls down from the roof which is so shrouded in black that we can't see through it. A human man slides down the string and lands on the ground in front of us. He slouches as he stands. One eye peers through the tangles mess of hair covering his face down to his large, widened smile. His entire body is thin and I can see the bones of his arms as clearly in this darkness as if it where day. His thin arms and legs are long, far longer than natural. His stomach however is bloated out and hangs over his decrepit legs. Four large spider-like legs spread form his back. These are the only limbs he has with any signs of muscle on them.

"Hello." He says to us in a shrill breathy voice. His one visible eye darts between us. "I am…Aron Ganglious."

"It looks like he's gained spider abilities." I warn the others.

"I didn't think we'd fight him." Romulus cringes. "He makes me sick to my stomach. Crispin brings him the bodies of people he's killed so that he can dispose of them."

The spider's eye fixes itself on Charlotte. "A pretty treat." He whispers. "A pretty treat has entered my home. I want her. I want her! I WANT HER!"

"He seems friendly." I push Charlotte towards the creature. "Well, don't leave him waiting."

"You're kidding. I'm not touching that thing!" Charlotte snarls pointing at him. "It's gross!"

It slumps back with a frown on its disfigured face.

"Aw. You hurt his feelings." I tease Charlotte, edging her closer to him.

"His little monster heart is breaking." Johnny pretends to cry into a hanky. "You're such an ice queen."

"You two suck!" She growls at us.

"You wont let us pass will you?" Romulus asks, glaring at the decrepit thing. I can see his muscles twitching under his clothes. He must be petrified.

"I shouldn't, but…" It whispers.

"But what?" Romulus peers through the darkness at the creatures mad lips as they cringe into a wide anticipating smile.

"If you leave one of the pretty ones behind I will not come after you."

"You son of a-" Romulus starts but I step out in front of him and cut him off.

"Deal." I say with a smile.

"What are you doing?" Romulus looks down at me in surprise. "After what I've told you about him you're the last person I'd-"

I raise my had and cut him off again.

"Spider-freak." I address the creature once more. "You promise not to come after us if we leave one of our pretty girls behind?"

"Yes. I promise." It crawls closer, anxiously looking forward to his payment.

"Fine then." I smile. "It's a deal."

"You." Romulus clenches his fists, holding back his anger.

I turn to the others. "Give us some time to decide who will be left."

"I will wait." It sits and twiddles its thumbs. It's one visible eye twitches over and over again as it watches Charlotte.

I point at Charlotte. "You go."

"Why me!?" She backs off. "That thing looks like it has fleas or something."

"Or rabies." Johnny looks over at him. "Maybe some sort of foreign thing that's hard to pronounce."

"But you can take him on easily." I tell her. "Besides, he seems to like you."

"I can't believe you're really planning on doing this." Romulus huffs. "He's the Depraved's compost. They give him the dead bodies of their victims and reward him with women they've drugged or killed. It doesn't matter to him. He a sadist and girls are his favourite prey. Especially young ones like Charlotte. He isn't even human."

I pretend to be offended. "We sadists people too."

"It's not the same." He tries to convince me. "He's not human. It's worse than the Xenothium. He was a convicted rapist and murderer before Crispin sprung him from jail and he's only gotten worse. You haven't seen what he's done. He's not a monster. He's a demon."

"We're going to go face a demon remember?" I remind him. "We have a plan to fallow."

"Screw the plan!" Romulus grabs me by the collar and lifts me off the ground. He looks like he can crush me at any moment. "We can't sacrifice someone to him!"

"I understand that." I tell him, smiling my dark genius smile. "But I'm confident in Charlotte."

Charlotte blushes.

"Confidence doesn't save lives." Romulus lets me go and looks at Aron. "I'll fight you. Just let the girls go."

"I don't want you." Aron cringes and shivers. "Men are not good. They taste bad. Crispin made me eat many of them but I never liked them so he gave me women to take the taste away. Women taste good. They're soft and yummy."

"Looks like he wont be satisfied with you." I tell Romulus triumphantly.

"Then lets just fight him together and get out of here!"

"You idiot." I point into the sky. "Can't your wolf eyes see through this darkness?"

Romulus' eyes turn from his normal ones to yellow wolf eyes and peer through the darkness covering the roof from sight.

"Webs."

"Duh." I tell him with a sigh. "It's a freaking, honest to Ackbar, trap. If we all fight in here we'd be easily caught in that web and waste a ton of energy just getting out. It makes more sense to just leave someone behind to take care of him while the rest of us go on ahead."

"We don't have anyone who could avoid all those webs aside from you and me anyway." He gnashes his teeth. "Besides, Charlotte's too slow to avoid him. He's incredibly fast with those extra legs."

"Then I'll do it." Mary steps forward.

"No. No way." Romulus objects. "Like I said before. Young girls are his favourite prey. I can't even begin to describe what he'd do to you."

"You sure?" I ask her and she nods. "Then I guess it's all good. Let's go."

"Are you really okay with this?" Johnny asks. "I can stay behind too."

"Didn't you hear what Alex said?" Mary unholsters her guns. "This requires speed. Aside from Alex himself, on our side, I'm the fastest and smallest. It only makes sense that I'm the one to stay."

"You brought the special bullets Alex and I made?" Charlotte asks her.

Mary holds up her guns. "Everything from rubber to that mega metal you used in Alex's old suit."

"Then we have nothing to worry about." I turn around and start walking and wave at Aron. "You get the squirt."

"Thank you. Oh, thank you." He licks his lips and grips the ground, his one visible eye fixated on her small frame. "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

"We're out of here." Johnny pushes Pandora forward and we all start moving, except Romulus who clenches his fist and stares at my back. His eyes, still in their enhanced wolf state catch a small glimpse of my hand slipping something into my pocket.

We leave and Mary is faced against Aron alone.

---

"You b****d!" Romulus pushes me into the wall when we're a little further up the hallway. "You killed her! You did worse than kill her! You've guaranteed that her last moments will be a torturous hell! Do you have any idea what that thing will do!? Of course not! You're a f**king idiot! Just because you didn't want to wait to fight Crispin!? You selfish-"

Romulus goes to hit me and I don't defend myself but Johnny does. He grabs Romulus' hand before it can reach me and pushes him off.

"You didn't react this way when we left Hotwire and El Dorado behind. Is it because Baby Doll looks so young?" Johnny asks Romulus. "Despite her looks Mary's a big girl. And I know for certain she can take care of herself."

"It's not the same."

"Then is it because she doesn't have powers or because she looks like a little girl? We have faith in Hotwire and El Dorado to do what they have to. Have faith in us."

Romulus stops but Johnny continues arguing.

"Alex is a jerk. He's a self important prick who thinks that he's invincible and a total a**."

"Love you too pumpkin." I say, faking hurt.

"But what he isn't is someone who would sacrifice his true friends." Johnny drops his hostile attitude. "If he says leave her behind and keep moving then do it. It'll all turn out okay in the end."

"You don't have to defend me Johnny." I push forward. "If you want to go back and help her do it. She'll probably send you back though. She doesn't like being looked after. If you go back she'll just feel hurt and think you're treating her like a kid or you don't trust her or something. She's not unaware of her own limits. She's just trying to prove that she can surpass them."

The other fallow but Charlotte stays behind for a moment to talk to Romulus.

"He acts like this sometimes." She smiles. "He tries not to show it but he thinks of how each of us feels before making his decisions. But still, he wont let any of us die. He's just not the kind of guy to let someone else break his toys."

"Break his toys, huh?" Romulus looks up at me. He thinks back to what I put in my pocket and continues on. "No more complaints then."

---

Baby Doll looks at the spider-like creature she has to fight. His body is half hidden in shadow. His slim figure looks like a giant in comparison to her small body.

"His arms and legs are weak." She thinks. "But those mutated arms look strong. There's also the webs to worry about. I'll have to finish him quickly."

Baby Doll fires two shots. One is stopped clean by one of Aron's mutated spider arms. The other hits him point blank in the stomach. He isn't phased by them but instead crawls closer.

"So pretty." He whispers as his spider arms pick his body off the floor and walk him closer.

"Looks like I'll need something a little stronger." Baby Doll switches to a blast bullet cartridge. She fires on him but the bullets, though they successfully explode on his skin, do not penetrate. "Great. Spider powers and enhanced durability."

"So pretty." He reaches out a thin, boney hand and caresses Baby Doll's cheek. "It's all mine."

Baby Doll switches cartridges. "Get your disgusting hands off of me." She fires an armour piercing bullet which cuts a line across Aron's cheek.

Aron's one eye widens at the sensation of pain and he wails in agony! "It hurts! It hurts! It hurts!"

Baby Doll gets ready for another attack but his spider arm swats her away.

"It hurt me." Aron grasps his cheek. "It hurt me. It's bad. It tricked me. I thought it was cute but it's bad. Why do cute things hurt me? They always hurt me. WHY!?"

Baby Doll watches his disturbing spasms as she aims for another shot. It fires and he blocks it with his naturally armoured spider arm.

"They said you would stay. He promised." Aron cries.

"No one promised anything about me playing nice." Baby Doll fires again but this time Aron jumps into the ceiling with incredible force, dodging the bullet.

"Why does pretty things hate me?" Aron fires three shots of webbing down on Baby Doll who dodges them and fires a few rounds into the darkness above. "Why do they run from me. All I want to do is play. They lie to me." His voice echoes all around Baby Doll as she searches the darkness, trying to hear any sign of where he is. "They tell me they'll play with me if I let them go. They lie." The walls reverberate the sound of his voice, making it impossible to tell where he is. "Pretty things are cute but they're mean. Mean things have to be punished. I kill them. They're so pretty."

Baby Doll backs up but he's standing behind her and reaches out, lifting her off the ground with his spider arms and starring into her face.

"They're so pretty." He stares into her eyes. "They're so pretty when they scream." His hands reach out and press against her cheeks. "You'll be so pretty."

Aron's mouth opens and two chelicerae fold out from the corners of his mouth. They dig into her shoulder. Baby Doll nearly freaks but gets a grip on her gun and fires into his leg. He throws her against the opposite wall and she falls on the stone ground.

---

Meanwhile, in the middle of an endless hallway.

"So…" I pose dramatically and brush the hair from my face. Looking back the others I smile and say "I'm lost."

"Don't say it like you're proud!" Charlotte kicks me in the back of the head. She crosses her arms and sighs. "Seriously. How long have we been wandering around? This place is like a maze."

"Of course." Romulus plants his hand against his face. "It has to be a maze. There's only one guy who works for Crispin who would be here. Why didn't I think of this sooner?"

"Because you're not a genius like me." I point out.

"Shut up Alex." Charlotte elbows my stomach. "Who's keeping us walking around in circles?"

"Machale Rinsenberg." Romulus raises a finger and explains. "He's a metahuman genius. He has the power of intuitive aptitude. Basically he has the power to learn and understand personal information about objects, subjects and occurrences. In his case he just knows how to create complex machinery and puzzles. He never has to learn. He just knows."

"Someone who instantly knows everything? Must be hard to deal with someone like that." I say, getting awful looks form everyone. "Hey, I worked for my knowledge. I don't have any meta-human powers so I have the right to be a pain about it."

"He's a deadly opponent. Crispin kept him around to torture information out of people. He's an extortionist and thinks he's better than anyone else, including Crispin."

"So I guess you're perfect for each other." Charlotte pats me on the back. "One snotty genius verses another."

"I'm not wasting my time on this." I yawn and lean up against the wall. "For one thing, I could navigate myself out of this place no problem. It's not like something like this could make me look bad."

The wall starts to slide out from behind me and I fall flat on my back as it drops away, revealing the way out.

"Yeah." Charlotte holds out her hand to help me up. "You look so cool right now."

"Like I said. This maze has nothing on me." I stand up and boast. "That wall could clearly feel my superiority and crumbled from fright."

"Such high talk from a mere mus musculus." A nasally voice crackles into our ears from rusty speakers. "To behave in such a commiserable manner in the presence of a true intellect. I have been cautioned of your aptitude but not of your egotism."

"Dude. That aint right." Johnny pats me on the shoulder. "He called you a mus musculxs. Aside from being part of the Depraved he's also a racist."

"Mus musculus is a common house mouse." I tell him.

"Oh." Johnny steps back into place. "That's better then."

"Anyway," I continue talking to the enemy. "If you're looking for some epic L verses Kira, battle of the brains type thing I'm afraid I'll have to pass. I've already found the way out and since that seems to be all you got I'm out of here."

"So, we're just leaving?" Johnny asks.

"If he doesn't want to come out and play why should we?" I turn back.

"Your escape wont be so elementary."

Some guns open fire from the walls but Pandora covers us in an energy box before they can hit.

"Nice work Pan-chan." I clap.

"I'd rather you not call me that." Pandora tells me with clear distaste.

"No one ever likes my nicknames." I mumble.

"Seriously." Charlotte flips the hair from her face. "This is stupid."

The rattling of the torrents silence when Charlotte raises her arm, activating her gauntlets and letting out a blade of energy which slices them right out of the wall.

"You guys go on ahead." She tells us. "I'll find the jerk who set up this stupid maze."

"I don't mean anything insulting by this but you couldn't even take on the Agent. How do you expect to beat Risenberg?" Pandora asks.

"Alex gave me some lessons." She activates some systems in her gauntlets and they begin to glow red. "Besides, I was using a crappy unfinished suit back then. Now I have my own stuff with me."

"It's true." I nod. "We even gave her a superhero nickname. She's no where near my level but she has the basics of superhero combat down. She should be able to handle a second rate thug with intuitive aptitude."

"Then lets stop wasting time." Johnny holds out his hand and gives Charlotte a high five. "Kill em good."

As soon as we all start to take off some more turrets come from the walls. Charlotte's gauntlets cut them to pieces before they can fire a single bullet.

"Targeting system looks good." Charlotte mutters as all her suit sparks to life. "Reaction time at two hundred percent human standard. Xenothium levels stable and all systems start. Kitten is online."

---

Baby Doll dives between two razor sharp lines of thread. The deadly fabrics fall like spears from the blackened rooftops, threatening to impale her small body. She plants a hand against the ground and does a backwards flip, nestling behind a rotted section of wall which had fallen away from the rest and uses it for cover.

"S**t." She breathes in heavily as her hands search her jacket for more ammo. "I've seen lightning move slower. Ugh!"

Baby looks down at her bleeding shoulder.

"Must've gotten me." She finds the bullets she's looking for and slides them into her guns. "Let's hope what Alex told me is true."

---

Flash back to the night before. I'm overlooking Charlotte's training in the gym as I munch down on some melon bread I forgot I was keeping. Mary kicks her legs as she sits impatiently on a table watching Charlotte's statistics go by on my computer screen and listening as I explain Xenothium theory to her.

"Alright, so this means that when the proper chemicals are introduced the mass of object A, I've nicknamed Fluffy, will increase clearly beyond normal boundaries due to, not an increase in distance between particles but a cloning of particles." I look at Mary's face as she tries to look like she's fallowing along. I grab a vile of pure Xenothium ore from the table. The former orange radiation it was giving off in its impure form is gone and only the liquid red version remains in the vile. "Let's try it this way. Have you heard of the Philosopher stone?"

"Isn't that in Harry Potter?" She asks me, excited that she might know what I'm talking about.

"It's a mythological stone which alchemists believed could turn base metals into gold or silver and sometimes be used as an elixir of life granting immortality."

"What does that have to do with Xenothium?"

"It is Xenothium." I carelessly toss the vile to her. She scatters to catch it before it breaks. "It wouldn't matter if you didn't catch it. The radiation xenothium gives off in its impure form is gone once it goes through my purification process. I don't suggest drinking it though since it still contain quite a bit of the philosopher stone element to it. Impure Xenothium radiation can cause just about anything to happen over time. When mixed with certain chemicals at the right temperature it will change something into something else, like metal into gold or a normal man into an immortal. I think there may be some traces in it used in Excalibur too. The energy from it can make just about anything happen. The problem is finding the right combination to make it happen. That combination can be anything from bathing it in the right chemicals to absorbing its radiation while in a certain emotional state. The red state you're holding right now is just a version which is easier to control and therefore has a lessened chance of causing death."

"So, you can do anything you want with it?"

"With the right information." I hold out my hand and she gives the vile back to me. I place it on the table. "It's like magic but a bit different. The laws of the universe say that nothing can be made or destroyed, just turned into something else. Xenothium ignores those laws. I have a theory that under the right circumstances Xenothium could generate a beam of complete nothingness."

"What would that do?"

I take out a pencil and paper and draw a little person. "This is a dude walking out of the store. Let's say he has four kids and a loving wife." I grab my eraser. "And this is a nothingness beam." I put the eraser on the paper and slide it across the mans stomach, leaving a blank page where the eraser rubs against it. "It would be an unblock able, unstoppable attack. It doesn't matter how strong something is if it's erased from existence."

"Okay."

"But Xenothium doesn't just have destructive capabilities. Take my flying X's for example. I can do things like, generate a weapon from nothing, or have a completely solid X dissolve into a sticky goop hundreds of times the original size of the X."

"Yeah, I was wondering how you did that."

"It's because purified Xenothium ignores the laws of creation and destruction. It's actually an electric generation set in my suit. All of my X's get there Xenothium from my belt and that small amount is electrically triggered by my suit in a way I discovered gives it the X shape. There are some other systems involved but it would just make this more confusing."

She nods, trying to keep up with me. "Y-You're really smart."

"Don't worry." I pat her head like she's a little kid. "The only reason I can use all of this effectively is because I'm a genius. A normal person would have trouble even controlling the flow of Xenothium, let alone forming it into a usable item. That's why my suit contains a lot of electrical systems, and why I focus so much on martial arts. I may be really smart but even I have trouble getting the necessary result sometimes."

---

"I'm not as smart as Alex." Mary aims her gun to the sky. "And I'm not as strong as Johnny." Her finger tightens on the trigger. "And I'm not as brave as Charlotte." Her teeth dig into her lower lip. The gun fires straight into the air. The bullet strikes the stone rooftop and lets off an incredibly powerful light, illuminating the room.

"MY EYES!" Aron shrieks in pain as his eyes which up until now have only seen the darkness of his underground home are shown intense light.

Baby Doll comes up from her hiding place and jumps from pillar to pillar until she's made it to Aron. She holds her gun to his head in mid air and smiles an incredibly dark smile. "But I'm Baby Doll."

Her second bullet is an explosion type which blasts Aron into the opposite wall. When She lands on the Ground Baby Doll loads in new padded bullets and fires at the stunned arachnid enemy. "And I have someone who believes in me. So I'm not going to let some ugly spider freak kill me in a place like this."

Baby Doll's out of bullets so Aron uses this time to escape back into the darkened rooftops once more.

"Come back here you coward." Baby fires some more flash bullets and catches a glimpse of Aron sneaking around the corner of a pillar. She leaps into the air and fires on him. One of her bullets misses and hits the wall behind the clump of tissue, shining its light and revealing a horrifying truth to Baby Doll. What she's been firing on isn't Aron but a mass of his webbing laid out as a trap. Several long legs surround Baby and her guns fall to the floor bellow her.

---

Humanoid robots crash and fall to the floor as their bodies are engulfed in flames. With lightning speed one girls teenage body blazes through the army of mechanical men and slices them into ribbons.

"Lame." Charlotte huffs and scratches her forehead. "These pieces of scrap are barely worth the second rate metal used to make them. I'm like, totally bored."

---

In his control room Risenberg tosses a controller against the wall and stands up. "I'll kill her myself."

Armour platting rises from the floor and closes in around him.

---

Charlotte taps her finger against her crossed arms and grumbles. "Seriously!" She calls out. "If you don't send me something interesting soon I'm just going back to the others."

The centre of the floor opens up and from the hole Risenberg emerges, his body shielded by a massive suit of armour. "How's this?" He grins down at her maliciously.

"That's it?" Charlotte groans. "Your final robot is a lamozoid exo suit? If you're going to come out with something like that then at least make it look like a Gundam or an Eva."

"I'll wipe that smile off your face!" Risenberg reaches his mechanical arm out and fires a blast of pure energy from the hand. "DIE!"

The energy dissipates and Charlotte stands in the middle of an energy shield, yawning. "Oh, did we already start? I wasn't paying attention."

Risenberg tries to punch her but she plants a hand on the robots finger and hops over it like a game of leap frog.

"Xenothium laser to 20%." Charlotte holds up her palm and blasts a red beam at the exo suit which falls back against the wall behind him. Charlotte twirls around , letting off blasts of energy in all directions, laying waste to the landscape.

Risenberg gets to his feet and fires a flurry of miniature missiles. Charlotte weaves through them, launching a single blast from her palm and knocking Risenberg back to the wall again.

"If you're not going to take this seriously you shouldn't even be fighting to begin with." Charlotte laughs. "But I can't blame you. You are fighting Kitten, the most powerful, smartest and most beautiful woman on this and any other earth."

Risenberg swats at her but she escapes him easily and charges her gauntlets for a final attack. Before she can fully charge it Risenberg hits a switch inside of his suit.

Four metallic tentacles spring from the suit and tangle around Charlotte's arms, pulling her into the air.

"Metal tentacles, ugly techno geek and a pretty heroine." Charlotte mumbles, a little uncomfortable. "I don't like where this is going."

"You b***h." Risenberg gnashes his teeth and glares at Charlotte through the protective shield of his suit. "How dare a subatomic mind like yours mock my superior intellect. I've put up with stuck up princesses like you for too long."

"Let me guess." Charlotte grumbles. "You couldn't get a date because of your ugly face and bad attitude so you decided to turn to crime instead of facing the fact that you're just a plain goober. Why do I end up fighting the delusional dork?"

"You'll think twice before insulting me again." Risenberg extends a fifth tentacle. The tentacles tip opens, revealing a series of spinning blades. "Why can't anyone understand my genius? Even the invincible Red X couldn't navigate my maze and had to run from me."

"You think he ran away?" Charlotte laughs. "You really are delusional." She looks down at her captor, grinning confidently despite her position. "Alex most likely saw through your maze from the beginning. That little slip where he "accidentally" found the exit was obviously a lie. He just wanted to mess with us and make it seem like we where lost, the stupid jerk. And as for running away, you wouldn't last a second against him. Unlike you he's a real genius."

"Then he should have known he shouldn't have left you behind." The blades move in closer, slicing Charlotte clothes straight down the middle. "My targeting systems are above even the military grade equipment they don't let the public know about."

"Wow. I'm so impressed." Charlotte pouts defiantly. "The girls must just fall at your feet."

"One way or another." Risenberg snarls, triggering a new tentacle to travel up Charlottes body, underneath the severed part of her clothes.

Charlotte squirms as it tangles around her.

"I'm sick of you ugly b***hes looking down on me." Risenberg begins to drool. "I think I'll take my time and play a little."

Charlotte's eye twitches. "Ugly?" She triggers a feature in her gauntlets and they let a flash of Xenothium energy burst from them. The energy blinds Risenberg, given Charlotte the time she needs to charge her next attack. The gauntlets glow red, melting the titanium holding them still and Charlotte uses this new freedom to cut herself loose. She lands on her feet and glares up at Risenberg. "No one calls me ugly you diminutive little freak!"

Charlotte slams her hands together and unleashes a Xenothium kamehameha wave so large it completely swallows up the exo suit. In order to escape, Risenberg ejects out the back of the melting suit and tries to run away. Charlotte catches up to him instantly and flicks his forehead, knocking him back on the ground.

"Take it back." She fires a Xenothium blast inches from his crotch. "You're probably never going to use it but from what I've heard, this will sting."

"I'm sorry!" Risenberg scatters to get to his feet. "Please spare me!"

Charlotte gives him a sweet smiles like an angel of mercy. "Nope. I'm still p***ed."

Risenberg runs, begging for his life as Charlotte chases him down.

---

Baby Doll struggles to keep get free from Aron's spider arms but he's far too strong and without her guns she can't fight him. He holds her against the wall and moves in, touching his face against hers.

"You hurt me." He holds out his decrepit hands and chokes her neck. "Why?"

"Let go of me." Baby tries to trick him so she can get her guns.

"You'll just run away like the others." He opens his mouth wide and lets out his chelicerae and uses them to feel her face. She shivers at the disgusting feeling. He lets go of her neck and presses his rotting lips against her neck the chelicerae begin to dig in but before they can breach Mary finally reaches a bullet kept inside of her sleeve and smacks it against the wall behind her. The spark of colliding with the wall activates the xenothium coating on the bullet and unleashes a burst of light. Aron drops her as he covers his sensitive eyes.

Mary hits the ground hard. She tries to get to her feet but she can barely move. She looks at the wound on her shoulder and makes a horrifying realization. Aron's chelicerae are poisonous. She's been slowly poisoned by his bite and now she's too paralyzed to move.

Aron drops down from the ceiling, having recovered from his temporary blindness. He picks Mary up from the floor and slams her back against the ground. His incredibly strong spider arm slaps her across the face with so much force that it sends her flying. She reaches into her pocket and throws a bullet at Aron who swats it away. The bullet explodes on the wall beside him, leaving him unharmed.

"I don't want to play with you anymore." He lifts her up with his spider arms and crawls up the wall. He wraps her body in a layer of his webbing and brings his chelicerae out again. The poison drips from his lips and he moves his head in slowly.

Mary's consciousness fades. "Alex." She moans under her breath. "I'm sorry. I can't beat him. I was too stubborn. Looks like I really am just a kid." Her eyes grow heavy and close as she falls into deep sleep.

---

Before Aron can sink his fangs into Mary a sharp pain burns through his spine and he leaps out of the way as razors cut his webbing to ribbons. Mary's limp body falls into waiting arms bellow.

"The nerve of that little b*****d." Blood coloured lips cringe in a snarl as Mary is set gently on the ground. "I planned on spending my Christmas somewhere nice like Hawaii, but he calls me to this dingy little bug infested dungeon. Maybe I should have spent more time training him in manners rather than combat skills."

"Another pretty one." Aron stares down at the luscious figure as she reaches up and catches the flying razor weapon from the air.

"I have better things to do with my time than this." Red Claw sighs disappointedly as she drops down and injects Mary with an antidote to Aron's poison. "But if my cute little former apprentice asks, I guess I have to show my soft side and bale his friends out. But still, making me run to his house to pick this up then sending me down here to take care of pest control. What are you thinking Alex?"

"That is mine!" Aron screeches. "Stay away!"

Red Claw tosses her weapon into the air. It collides with Aron's spider arms, cutting into them and spewing blood like rain.

"Shut up. I'm in a bad mood." Red Claw catches the weapon from the air. "If you try to attack me I'll erase you from existence. A pathetic microbe like you should know your place."

"You're mean too. I'll kill you!" Aron charges her but Red Claw throws her weapon at him. Red Claw's favourite weapon is the flying guillotine. It is a disk-like weapon with blades around the rim and a chain wrapped around her wrist. She has a small seven pound weight on the opposite end of the chain but she wields it with grace and ease as if it weighed nothing at all. The top of the disk is decorated with depictions of death. It is the ultimate assassination weapon.

The chain wraps around Aron's arms and pulls him into the air. Red Claw leaps up towards the roof and swings the weight above her head tossing it down on Aron. His skin, which could only be harmed by the full force of a xenothium burst bullet cracks under the weight as he slams into the ground. Aron refuses to lose and fires a web from his mouth. The flying guillotine cuts it to mulch. Red Claw swings the guillotine back towards Aron, slicing three of his arms off.

"I'll kill you!" Aron screams. He charges Red Claw again but this time instead of dodging she swings her flying guillotine around a pillar, angling it so that it comes up from behind Aron and lands on his head. The bottom of the disk, where the razor sharp blades are attached drops down around his neck, holding his head in the hidden cage. Revealing the true purpose of the flying guillotine Red Claw pulls the chain, brining the blades inwards, slicing through Aron's neck. His body falls limp on the ground. Red Claw picks up the guillotine and opens its blades. Aron's head falls out from the blood covered cage.

Red Claw picks Mary up from the ground and takes her out of the dungeon. "Well, I've done my part. Have fun with the rest Alex."

---

The remainder of us make our way past the dungeon feeling part and enter a new room. This one is starting to look a little hot.

"Who turned on the heat?" Johnny asks. "It's freaking boiling."

"Keep on your guard." Romulus warns us.

"So we're doing this one at a time?" A tall, extremely muscular black man with dreadlocks and eyes that look as if they'd been burnt to coal walks out from behind the scenes. "That's fine with me. Crispin wants to fight the little ninja dude himself anyway. But I suggest the rest of you stay." The heat in the room rises, causing the air to twist and sway. "You're going to need at least that much."

"Let's go Romulus." I look at him and get ready for a fight. "I'll stay behind this time."

Pandora looks at me and Romulus intently, swallowing nervously. "Anthony is incredibly strong, but this person beat him before. To have him ask Romulus to fight alongside him i order to take out this one guy when he was willing to leave everyone behind just to move on quicker…This person must be incredible."

The heat radiating off of the man in front of us burns like hellfire. I smile confidently as I unsheathe my X cutters.

Preview Time!

Alex: "Next time, on a very special chapter of Red X Oscura: Johnny faces off against an enemy who's power dwarfs his strength. Romulus faces off in a battle of animalistic fury against a monster from his nightmares and…wait. Who's waiting for me before I can get to Crispin? Next Red X Oscura, In the case of Johnny Rancid and Anthony Romulus."

Romulus: "So we're moving right along today? Usually you have to rant a little before getting to the preview."

Pandora: "He's just a little tense because he hasn't had any fight time."

Alex: "Human X said that if I move along he'll let me eat some more mellon bread in the next chapter."

Romulus: "So, he's resorted to bribery to keep you in line."

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Red X Oscura Ch 17 (In the Case of Hotwire and El Dorado)

Ch17 In the Case of Hotwire and El Dorado

This fiction will be rated FR21 just incase. Beware sexual content and stuff like that. Readers discretion is advised.

Many of the characters seen are HumanX adaptations of characters from the various DC Comics animated series. HumanX holds no rights to characters such as Red X and Johnny Rancid (he only tweaked them for this story).

Let's get to the story already

So far our group has successfully infiltrated the Depraved's final base of operations thanks to the sacrifice of two of our own members. El Dorado and Hotwire have branched off from the rest of us so that we can continue pushing forwards into the base.

"Are you sure it was a good idea to leave Hotwire behind?" Mary calls up to Romulus.

"Don't sell her short." Romulus calls back. "She's a level three on the infections list and she chooses her battle well. She wouldn't have bothered to volunteer to stay behind if she didn't think she could win."

"I dunno." Charlotte adds in. "She seems a little hot headed to me."

"Trust Romulus." I tell them. "This is his team member we're talking about. He should know her weaknesses better than us."

"It's easy for you to say." Romulus smiles at me. "You can tell what she was thinking can't you?"

"I make it my business to know what goes through the minds of women." I grin confidently under my helmet. "It's just another reason why I'm awesome."

---

Hotwire rustles her fingers together building static electricity in her fingers as her opponent sizes her up. His sickly pale green eyes travel the lengths of her body searching for any sign of weakness or breach in her defences.

"You really are just a little girl." He comes to his final conclusion. "I've been underestimated."

"You think so?" Hotwire looks around the room at all the metallic material. "It does seem you have the terrain to your advantage. But you still have no chance of winning. Not against me."

"We'll see." Ferromagnum reaches his hand into the air and draws the metal in the area to it, creating a blade over his forearm.

---

"ORRRRRYAAAAAGH!" The woman's fist impales El Dorado's chest, busting through his ribs and crushing his internal organs. The shockwave itself rips his spine from his back.

"Wow." The body on the woman's fist disappears as El Dorado's true self fades into existence beside her. "Such incredible power. Your dedication shows well in both the initial strike and the fallow through."

The woman spins around to attack him but falls through the image of his body.

"Enough of these illusions." The woman grits her teeth as she tries to discover El Dorado's whereabouts.

"I just realized that I didn't even ask your name." Another image appears. "What was it by the way?"

"My colleagues call me Panzer." She attacks again.

"Such a rough name for such a delicate flower." El Dorado sighs as his illusion splits into three different clones of himself.

"Yeah," Panzer rubs the sweat from her chin before lifting a car over her head and tossing it at the images. "I'm a real pansy girl."

The car passes through the fakes but the original only has moments to get out of the way. His illusion breaks and Panzer tackles him into a wall.

"I think you may have broken two of my ribs." El Dorado chokes on the pain. "If you really put your full effort in you could have easily broke my spine too."

"I don't need advice." Panzer grabs him by the leg and tosses him at a parked truck. El Dorado wraps himself in his cape and teleports to safety.

"Those who don't accept advice from their elders are doomed to face failure." He says as he dodges another of her attacks. "Also, you seem to have a well formed base when it comes to combat. Why would someone with such natural skill resort to drugs to increase their abilities? Such a waste of talent."

"Just shut up!" Panzer grabs him by the head and pushes his skull into the concrete bellow.

El Dorado teleports from his cape just in time. "A second later and my head would have been mashed like a potato. I should start taking her more seriously."

"I have enhanced strength, defence, senses and the ability to fly." Panzer calls out to El Dorado who is hiding behind a large truck. "That's why I'm the first line of defence."

"And that's why I can't risk letting you get your hands on me." El Dorado whispers under his breath. "I also possess enhanced strength and durability but not to such extents. My opponent is indeed formidable. Her speed can even keep up with my teleportation. I may have to rely completely on illusion. And then there's that." His hands clench as he thinks over his options. "I can't hit a girl! It's about my manly pride!"…Are you kidding me?

---

Hotwire weaves through one metallic object after another as she dodges across the room.

"Stand still you little-" Ferromagnum tries to surround her with chairs but she flips out of the way and summersaults backwards before they even have a chance of hitting her.

"Boring." Hotwire places a hand on her hip and yawns. "Come on old guy, give me something fun to do."

"Something fun?" Ferromagnum reaches out to the metal in the chairs, tables and some from the rafters and forms them into a wave of metal which looks like sentient metal dragon. The dragon chases Hotwire who blasts it with lightning but it keeps coming. She jumps over its deadly fanged face and roles off the creature's back. It reforms and chases after her again, gaining as it herds her into corner. Hotwire moves full speed at the wall and runs straight up it using static electricity to seal her feet to the wall with each step and allowing her time to charge her electrical attack into her right hand. The sound of the creature's body being overwhelmed by the heat of Hotwire's attack sounds like a demonic shriek and the creature sweats drops of its own body. The metal falls away, melted into a clump of semi-liquid.

"I guess it's harder for you to control metal after it's been heated, huh?" Hotwire turns her attention to Ferromagnum. He grins as the liquid metal moves once more, wrapping itself around her and coiling like a boa constrictor.

"Not really. All forms of metal which are effected by magnetic fields are the same. I just need to focus my attentions differently than before." The metallic menace coils tighter. It's sharpened wire-like body cuts into Hotwire's suit and lacerates her skin. Despite the pain it no doubt causes the girl she simply glares at Ferromagnum with no signs of distress. "I've always liked this part. Watching the struggle as my prey tries to wretch itself free and the panic they display as their minds begin to understand that there really is no escape. But the best part would have to be watching as the life fades from their eyes as they die. It's thrilling."

"You need a new pass time." Hotwire fires a blast of electricity from her forehead and almost cuts a hole through Ferromagnum's shoulder, but unfortunately he dodges.

"I guess I will miss the show." He pouts and commands the metal to close around her. The constrictor melts over Hotwire and engulfs her body completely. Ferromagnum bows. "Revoir."

---

Panzers punches continue hitting dead air as El Dorado keeps his illusions up.

"Get out here and fight me you coward!" Panzer calls out to him.

"I just can't do it!" El Dorado sits in a fetal position on top of a transport. "It's not right for a man to hit a girl! My manly pride wont allow it!"

"Why haven't I killed this guy yet?" Panzer lift up the transport and tosses it.

El Dorado jumps off just in time. He dodges as Panzer tries to hit him with the force of an elephant behind each attack.

"I just can't do it. My body may have the strength of a lion but my heart cannot bare the pain of knowing I caused such a tender flower harm."

That "tender flower" misses a shot to his head and puts her hand through a concrete wall.

"Stop dancing around like an idiot and fight me d**nit!"

"Maybe we can talk this out." El Dorado keep dodging even though she's getting closer to hitting him. "Maybe I can help you get back on the right track."

"I don't need counselling!"

"If we would all just admit to our imperfections the world could begin to heal. Can't you see that when you attack me you're only hurting yourself?"

"If you'd sit still I could correct that!" She punches so hard it doesn't matter that he dodges it because the shockwave knocks him back and drops his illusions.

"Alright." El Dorado stands up and looks at her with so much intense passion in his eyes it stops her cold for a moment. "You leave me no choice then."

"Now we can get down to the real fight."

El Dorado opens his arm wide. "Hit me all you want until you're ready to talk! I wont try to stop you!"

"Alright." Her fist crams into his face and sends him rolling backwards like a stone being skipped against a lake.

"You really hit me." He gets up and rubs his cheek.

"Well of course."

"But what about my display of manly pride!? You're supposed to be moved by my selflessness and learn the error of your ways!" Tears are actually streaming from his eyes.

"You know, you're a good looking guy and a decent fighter but you're awfully stupid!" Panzer yells at him. "Who the hell falls for crap like that!? You sound like a cheesy cartoon superhero!"

"But don't you feel the power of justice beating in your chest!?"

"I don't want a freak like you talking about my chest."

"So you're ashamed of your body as well!?" He falls to his knees. "Don't you know that it's a woman's inner beauty which really shine the brightest!? Of course I can't blame you for not understanding your own good points. Having grown up with an abusive father and an uncaring mother."

"My parents loved me."

"Forced out of your home at an early age you never had a chance at a true education!"

"I went to Berkeley in California."

"Forced onto the streets and with few chances for good jobs you where forced to sell your body just to make it by."

"Stop making up other peoples back stories!" She kicks him so hard he goes through the nearest wall.

"You've led such a troubled life. But you've hit me twice now without killing me. Don't you see that's a sign that you truly are a good person!?" El Dorado cries into his wrist.

"How do I kill you!?" She screams in frustration.

"But all of that can end! Just see the error of joining the Depraved and turn to justice!" He wraps an arm around her. "When even your caring aunt who was the only person to support you lies dying in bed justice will show you the light and keep you going strong!"

"Don't kill off my aunt!" She flips him over her shoulder and screams. "What the hell is wrong with you!? Are you a freaking idiot!?"

"If caring makes me an idiot than I don't want to be smart!" El Dorado takes her hands.

"Sir." Panzer says to him in a calm, nearly sweet voice.

"What is it? You can tell me." He asks with sparkles in his eyes.

"I'm going to count to three and then I'm going to start beating you. I don't know when or if I will stop. But if I do you most likely will not survive."

"It sounds like somebody needs to talk out their problems." Her hand closes around his neck and crushes it into nothing. The body disappears.

"Another illusion." She turns around but he's right there, looking at her with so much sadness he almost doesn't look human anymore.

"I'm so sorry." He pokes her in the forehead. "I can't fight a girl so I'll have to use my mental powers to put you down."

Panzer feels her knees become weak and her eyes close. "I'm…I'm going to kill you someday…You stupid…I'm gonna kill you."

"So young. And so full of hate." El Dorado wipes the tears from his eyes and looks up into the sky. "WHY!!!!!!???"

---

"Now to catch up to Romulus." Ferromagnum prepares to come after us. "I'll have to teach him a lesson for betraying the Depraved."

The clump of metal encasing Hotwire begins to boil. Ferromagnum watches in horror as his death trap bubbles out of control and explodes in a furious blaze of blue lightning.

Hotwire steps out from the mess of molten metal and brushes her hair from her electrified glowing eyes. Her whole body is covered in an electric field.

"I can't let you hurt Anthony, not that you could." The sparks from flying from her body look like stars in the clear night sky. "You see I've got a thing for older men and he's been so nice to me. If things don't work out with Alex I may have to make him my target."

"If you survived you should have just played dead until I was gone." Ferromagnum calls the melted metal to his hands and forms two blades. "Now I'll have to make sure you're dead before I move on."

"Apres que vous." Hotwire crosses her arms and waits.

Ferromagnum charges at her but his blades cut through thin air. Hotwire's lightning fires a second later, blasting him into a wall.

"When I'm in this glowing form I get incredible speed. It's a part of the power you're bosses where kind enough to give me." Hotwire tells him. "I'd like to use it to show them my appreciation."

"Little brat." Ferromagnum reaches out his arm and sends a stream of metal in the form of a large spike to impale her but the stream stops just short of her face, unable to move any further.

"This form also comes with a built in shield." Hotwire grabs the metal spike and crushes it under the force of her power, shattering its body to pieces which fire off in every direction as her body moves through them at such high speed that she is standing in front of Ferromagnum before even a second could pass. In terror Ferromagnum calls out to the metal of the wires in the walls to wrap around Hotwire's arms and legs and lift her into the sky.

"You're mine!" Ferromagnum gathers all the metal he can into a claw and sends it flying up at Hotwire who focuses the electric power around her and fires a single focused beam from her chest. It cuts through the claw, melting it into a scattered pile of smouldering nothingness. Her electric aura returns and snaps the wires holding her up. Ferromagnum reaches out to the metal again but before he can Hotwire's amped up fist collides with his stomach and pounds him into the wall so hard that the wall splinters under the force. Her fists continuously collide with his chest so fast the naked eye can't see them, but the damage they cause is clear to anyone. Ferromagnum's fist becomes covered in metal and he reaches up and strikes Hotwire across the cheek. She stumbles back and looks up in time to put up an electric force field before Ferromagnum can hit her again.

"Vous merde stupide!" Hotwire's snarls, her face twisting into complete rage. "You never, under any circumstances, punch a pretty girl in the face!"

"Aren't we feeling high and mighty?" Ferromagnum covers his body aside form his face in metal. "We'll see how long you last."

He holds out his hands and the metal streams out like tentacles fro his fingers.

---

Charlotte looks back down the hall we're running through.

"Are you still worried about Yvette?" I ask her.

"Well, the guy she's fighting looked really confident. I'm not sure about his power level."

"It's the same as hers." I tell her bluntly.

"What!?" Charlotte panics. "Then we have o go back! She'll be killed!"

"Not likely." Romulus laughs. "Actually, I couldn't have hoped for her to face a better opponent."

"Huh?" Charlotte looks at us like we're nuts.

"I was briefed on the powers of all the people Romulus knows of in the Depraved before we came here." I explain. "Ferromagnum has the ability to control magnetic fields. You get it?"

"Not really?" Charlotte grumbles.

"Really?" I ask her, purposely making it sound really obvious. "It's pretty simple."

"Just give me the freaking answer!" She gets fed up with me.

"Fine." I give in. "Think about this for a second. The trick to Hotwire's fight is…"

---

"What's happening!?" Ferromagnum cries out as the metal falls from his body. "What's going on!? My power! What happened to my power!?"

"It's pretty simple when you think about it." Hotwire reaches an arm out and the lifeless metal on the ground bends to her will. "The magnetic fields you use to control objects are produced by electric charges. Because of that your powers are completely reliant on electricity, my power. So all I need to do is cut off your supply. Why didn't I think of this earlier?" She smiles. "I must be off today."

"You." Ferromagnum clenches the ground. "You're making a fool out of me. You little bit-" And bamf.

Ferromagnum is plastered to the wall with a charge of Hotwire's static power. "Yup. I totally made you look like a imbecile. But in the end I win." She knocks Ferromagnum out with a slight electric shock to the head.

---

"I see you've finished up in here too." El Dorado walks in and pats Hotwire on the head. "I expected no less."

"Yeah. Now we can catch up to the others." Hotwire turns to fallow us but freezes.

"What's wrong?" El Dorado asks watching as sweat pours from Hotwire's face.

"You wouldn't..uh…" She turns around and smiles awkwardly. "Happen to know where the others are, would you?"

There's a moment of silence before the two break into panic.

"Aw merde! We're so f**ked!" Hotwire shoots of sparks in her alarm. "Romulus is going to kill me! Maybe I can convince him this guy was tougher than he looked."

"Such a tragic end!" El Dorado cries. "Maybe we can wake these two up and have them tell us where the secret entrance is."

"Don't wake them up!" Hotwire stops him. "We'd have to fight them again. They probably wouldn't tell us anyway."

"HEY!" Both El Dorado and Hotwire look up to see a large group of Depraved soldiers ready to fight them. "We're what's left of the Depraved's front line! Don't think you can just pass us so easily!"

"You have no idea how glad I am to see you!" El Dorado flies up to him and shakes his hand.

Hotwire jumps up beside him. "If we make these guys last long enough we'll have an excuse not to catch up."

"We owe you our lives." El Dorado thanks the enemy in tears. "Romulus said if we mess up our missions he'd let Red X decide our punishment and I'm not sure the little guy's all there."

"Uh…I." The Depraved members have no idea what to do. "You're welcome…"

---

As El Dorado and Hotwire deal with their new friends the rest of our group makes its way into through the final hallway and enters a dimly lit room which resembles the Rose Avenue Cathedral. Except this place has no windows and is covered in spider webs and moss.

We wait silently until both Romulus and I nod to signal each other and we jump back, pushing our friends out of the way as massive strands of sticky webs coms down from the sky.

"Aw crap." Romulus realizes who we're up against instantly. "I really wanted to avoid him."

A strand of web falls down from the roof which is so shrouded in black that we can't see through it. A human man slides down the string and lands on the ground in front of us. He slouches as he stands. One eye peers through the tangles mess of hair covering his face down to his large, widened smile. His entire body is thin and I can see the bones of his arms as clearly in this darkness as if it where day. His thin arms and legs are long, far longer than natural. His stomach however is bloated out and hangs over his decrepit legs. Four large spider-like legs spread form his back. These are the only limbs he has with any signs of muscle on them.

"Hello." He says to us in a shrill breathy voice. His one visible eye darts between us. "I am…Aron Ganglious."

Preview Time!

Red Claw: "Hello! Anyone here!?" Looks around the apartment. "Alex, I came to play!" Crosses her arms. "Where did he go?"

HumanX: "Oh, hey."

Red Claw: "What are you doing here?"

HumanX: "Well, I'm…Same as you, I want to play."

Red Claw: "Considering it's you I highly doubt that. What's behind your back?"

HumanX: "N-Nothing."

Red Claw: Snatches it away. "Stealing caramel cubes? That's pathetic."

HumanX: "But I love caramel cubes. And they're the kind they only give out around Halloween."

Red Claw: "Isn't it Christmas now? Doesn't that mean these are old?"

HumanX: "When it comes to caramel it doesn't matter! Caramel is the single greatest of all candies! It is the king!"

Red Claw: "What about Pocky?"

HumanX: "I'm not a fan of Pocky."

Red Claw: "You're an otaku! How do you not like Pocky?"

HumanX: "There just never seems to be enough of it and I finish it before I even know I started."

Red Claw: "So, what's your favourite drink? If it has alcohol in it I'm all for it."

HumanX: "I like french vanilla coffee with whipped cream."

Red Claw: "You're going to die really young."

HumanX: "I've never been able to decide my favourite kind of food. I've been cooking my own food lately so I've been wondering which one my favourite is."

Red Claw: "Mine is the Diamond Fruitcake."

HumanX: "I thought all fruitcake tasted bad. I've never eaten one I liked."

Red Claw: "You haven't had Diamond Fruitcake. It was made by two Japanese chefs and It's served with a cute little floral arrangement and studded with 223 little diamonds. It costs around 1.65 million dollars."

HumanX: "You have pretty extravagant taste. By the way, I have a Deviant Art account now."

Red Claw: "Random."

HumanX: "If anyone wants to check it out it's at this link: http://negahumanx.deviantart.com/"

RedClaw: "Why NegaHumanX?"

HumanX: "When blessed with the dark power of anime I am given incredible inhuman abilities as I take on my negative form."

Red Claw: "Oh."

Alex: "Am I late for Preview time?"

HumanX: "Pretty much."

Alex: "On the next chapter of Red X Oscura we move deeper into the Depraved's hideout. The multi-limbed menace isn't the only one we have to worry about. I'm starting to feel like Ryoga Hibiki getting lost this much. Who the hell is behind this stupid maze!? Next Red X Oscura chapter, 17 in the case of Baby Doll and Kitten. Whew, now that that's over I can get a snack…" Rummages through the fridge. "Who the hell stole my caramel!?"

Red Claw and Human X: "Run away!"

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